CILEx Calls For Certification Rules To Be Extended Permanently

Following the decision by Land Registry to accept copies of Lasting Power of Attorneys (PoAs) certified by Legal Executives from the Chartered Institute of Legal Executive (CILEx), there are now calls to change the law to make it permanent across the board.

The anomaly in the Power of Attorney Act 1971, that only allows solicitors and notaries, has prevented CILEx members from certifying copies of PoAs has caused “unnecessary delays and confusion, to the detriment of clients”. The decision for Land Registry to accept them from CILEx Lawyers for the duration of the pandemic, has been welcomed by CILEx.

In a recent survey of CILEx members practising in wills and probate showed that the inability to certify PoAs has caused them problems an average of 10 times a month, and have maintained that there is no reason for the distinction in the law. The issue, they state is likely causing over 2000 delays at a time of massive strain on families.

The research also found that it had a negative effect on firms’ quality of service – 75% said it caused delays – client satisfaction and fees.

One respondent to the survey said:

“My clients do not understand why I cannot offer this service myself. If I am qualified to act as a certificate provider and also to prepare the lasting power of attorney, then why am I not able to certify that a document is a true copy of an original document that I have already prepared?”

Another observed:

“We can now become partners of law firms, have rights of audience in the courts, become judges, swear oaths as a Commissioner for Oaths, but we cannot certify a lasting power of attorney as a true copy of a page of the original document?”

Another issue CILEx members face is finding a solicitor that is willing and able to certify copies in a timely manner, which can lead to delays of up to a week.

CILEx Chair Chris Bones says:

“We strongly welcome the Land Registry’s move and hope it will become permanent. It is showing justified confidence in the competence and qualifications of CILEx Lawyers and we urge the government to take measures to make this a permanent arrangement.

“Modernising practice in this way helps ensure affordable and timely access to legal services, particularly for the more than one million people especially susceptible to COVID-19. Our research shows how this outdated legislation is causing real people real problems, in an environment where concerns are already accentuated by the current pandemic.

“Removing such an illogical constraint to release more than 3,000 CILEx Lawyers to meet the needs of vulnerable people can only be a good thing and we urge other areas of government and the justice system to follow the Land Registry’s example.

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