MPs are currently considering the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill. If the Bill becomes law, it will allow for close relatives of missing people to oversee their financial affairs until the missing person is found.
The CML said that lenders are currently prevented by confidentiality rules and legal obligations from making “pragmatic arrangements” when a borrower disappears. As things stand, if a borrower goes missing, the property is essentially left ownerless and can fall into disrepair.
However, the trade body said that government guidance would play a crucial role.
Bernard Clarke, spokesman for the CML, said: “Guardianship would be a new concept to staff working for lenders, many of whom are unlikely to be aware of the Bill’s progress. If the Bill becomes law, it would therefore be helpful for the government to provide a quick, clear and reliable means of verifying a guardian’s right to have information – and to make decisions – about a borrower’s property and financial matters.”
He suggested that one way this could be handled would be for the office of the Public Guardian to keep a register of guardianship orders, in much the same way as the register of Deputies appointed under the Mental Capital Act 2005.
Support for ‘Claudia’s Law’
The bill has been referred to as ‘Claudia’s Law’, in memory of Claudia Lawrence who disappeared on her way to work at the University of York in 2009. Her father was told he would not be allowed to manage her financial affairs, and the bill has been brought forward by local MP, Kevin Hollinrake.
While it passed the second reading in the House of Commons unopposed, there are still several legislative stages to pass through before it can become law.