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Powers of Attorney

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what further steps he will take to reduce the time taken by the Office of the Public Guardian for the registration of lasting powers of attorney. (243111)

Currently the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) aims to register all Lasting Powers of Attorney that do not contain defects within nine weeks of receipt. This includes a statutory six-week waiting period during which objections to registration can be made.

Where there are defects within an application we aim to inform parties of the problem within two weeks of receipt. Timescales for the processing of applications beyond that point will be dependent upon the nature of the defect and how easily it can be rectified. The OPG has already changed its processes in relation to applications with rectifiable defects to trigger the statutory waiting period from the same point as for valid applications. Previous practice was to wait until the fault was resolved before triggering

the waiting period. This has potentially reduced the time taken to register applications containing defects (where they can be resolved) by up to six weeks.

The OPG is undertaking a review of the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to determine how well the Act's aims are being met in practice. Among the areas to be looked at are the current LPA forms and the processes by which they are made and registered. We will be considering carefully to what extent the time taken to register applications can be reduced as part of this work.

However we need to keep in mind that the six-week statutory waiting period forms a large part of the current timescale. This is an important safeguard and allows objections to be made to the Public Guardian in relation to the application. We would need to think carefully about whether this period could be reduced significantly without limiting its value.