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New safeguards for people using lasting powers of attorney

New reporting forms have been introduced to improve protection for people using lasting powers of attorney (LPA).

LPAs enable you to appoint someone to be your deputy and look after your interests should you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself at some point in the future. Deputies can be appointed to make decisions about health and welfare, and property and financial matters.

As a safety precaution, deputies have to fill out forms stating the decisions they’ve taken and explaining their reasons. These forms are scrutinised by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) which looks after the welfare of the vulnerable.

The OPG has now updated the forms to make them more tailored to individual circumstances.

Separate property and financial forms (OPG102) and health and welfare forms (OPG104), have replaced the old combined form.

In section 4 of the property and financial form, deputies are asked to detail the level of contact they have with their client, how the client’s care is funded and whether the client is receiving all of their entitled benefits.

An OPG statement says: “We’ve identified these key areas as early indicators that a client may be at risk of neglect or a red flag that the client is not receiving adequate support. If there are any inconsistencies, we can act quickly and investigate further.

“Also, in section 5 of health and welfare decisions, deputies will need to provide information on the client’s care arrangements, and health and social activities. Again, this is to identify whether the client is receiving the appropriate level of support.”

Public Guardian Alan Eccles, said: “We have a duty of care to our deputies and their clients, and the redesign of the form addresses the needs of both groups. Deputies now have tailored report forms to suit their needs with a new look and feel, which makes for a more straightforward process.

“With additional questions and the introduction of the new safeguarding section, we can better support the deputies who need it the most, while protecting vulnerable members of society.”

The new forms became available on 1 March.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of lasting powers of attorney.

Dyslexia sufferer wins discrimination claim against Starbucks

A woman with dyslexia has won a disability discrimination claim against Starbucks after it demoted her for making mistakes caused by her condition.

Meseret Kumulchew has difficulties with reading, writing and telling the time. The company accused her of falsifying documents when she provided inaccurate information relating to the temperature of water and fridges at her branch at Clapham in London.

She was removed from her position as supervisor and given less responsible duties.

She brought a claim of disability discrimination on the grounds that the company had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her condition, even though she had made it clear that she had difficulties with words and numbers.

The Employment Tribunal found that the company had discriminated against her because of her dyslexia. It also said that she had been victimised and that her employer appeared to have little understanding of equality issues.

There will now be another hearing to assess the level of compensation. Ms Kumulchew continues to work for Starbucks.

People who feel they’re being discriminated against at work and are considering bringing a claim need to act quickly. Claims generally have to be brought with three months minus one day of the discrimination taking place. There are limited exceptions to this but the best advice is to act within the deadline.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

Husband loses appeal against unequal divorce settlement

A husband has lost his appeal against an unequal divorce settlement that gave his wife a greater share of the marital assets.

The couple had separated after 15 years’ of marriage due to difficulties caused by the husband’s addictive behaviour. The wife remained in their London flat and the husband moved to a rented flat in Monte Carlo.

The judge considered that the matrimonial assets included the London property, three French properties, the husband’s shares in several business ventures, and financial investments in the wife’s name.

He found that it was not reasonable to expect the wife to work, and that although the husband was unlikely to return to employment until he overcame his addictive behaviour, he was able to manage his investments.

The judge then proceeded on the basis that the husband had $1 million when they had married and that both had made a full and equal contribution to the family welfare.

He divided the assets 54.5% to the wife and 45.5% to the husband, which would be achieved by the wife retaining the London property, dividing the proceeds of sale of the French properties and each retaining the investments in their name.

The judge explained the unequal division on the basis that it was necessary to provide for the wife’s needs. The decision also reflected the husband’s conduct that had led to the reckless frittering away of family money and the distress that his addictive behaviour caused to the wife.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision. It said the judge’s departure from equality could have been justified purely on the basis of the different needs of the husband and the wife. He was also entitled to take into account that the marriage had left the wife with no earning capacity, but the husband remained a shrewd and knowledgeable businessman.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.