My noble Friend the Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy (Lord Faulks QC) has made the following written statement.
“I am pleased to announce that following its consideration of the responses to the consultation paper published by the Ministry of Justice on 27 August 2014 the Government have decided to create the new legal status of guardian of the property and affairs of a missing person.
The Government strongly support the creation of the new legal status and will now prepare the necessary primary and secondary legislation and guidance to enable the proposed scheme to be implemented as quickly as possible. In this task we will continue to work with stakeholders to design a scheme that can be implemented at minimum cost and operated with minimum problems.
The timing of the introduction of the legislation will be decided by Ministers in the next Parliament. Nonetheless, given the importance of this measure, the strong support to date from all sides and its own commitment to bringing forward legislation as soon as possible, the Government hope that legislation will be brought forward without delay in the new Parliament.
The key features of the proposed scheme will be:
A guardian will be required to act in the best interests of the missing person and in this respect will be subject to duties similar to those of a trustee.
The guardian will be supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian and will be required to file accounts in much the same way as a deputy appointed under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
A guardian will be appointed by a court on application by a person with a sufficient interest in the property and affairs of the missing person.
The appointment will be for a period of up to four years with the possibility of applying for an extension for up to another four years.
The replies to the consultation are described and analysed in the response paper published by the Ministry of Justice today.
I have placed a copy of the response paper in the Library of each House of Parliament. It is also is available at https://consult.justice.gov.uk.”