I want to share a summary of the information I received from my fellow panelists at the IAFL European Chapter conference 2019. Dr. Shruthi Guruswamy and Dr. Jehanne Sosson were my co-panelists at the IAFL European Chapter conference 2019. What were the most fascinating aspects of the session on legal capacity?

It was a shock to me that Oksana had explained to us that in Ukraine, someone can’t sign a Lasting or Enduring power of attorney. Some audience members were concerned that the deputy could misuse LPA/EPA’s for their purposes. There was a wide range of opinions on whether or not EPAs/LPAs can be used in international situations, such as when a party has entered into an EPA in one country and needs to use it elsewhere.

We got to the section on the capacity to wedding and Esther explained that in Spain if the person has a history of mental illness, an entry can also be made to the records. These records are then given to the registrar conducting the marriage. The registrar must then verify that the person is legally competent to marry. This is very different from the approach in other countries, including Singapore, explained Kesavan. In England, there is a presumption that a person is capable unless it is otherwise determined. Medical advice is required if there is any doubt as to whether or not a person has the necessary capacity. We were able to hear from Dr. Shruthi Guruswamy, Consultant Psychiatrist about the many cases in which she was required to carefully consider whether someone can understand the particular matter. For example, someone could be able to get married, but not have the ability to alter their will.

We also heard from Belgium about how progressive approaches are being advocated regarding the scope of any person appointed by the Court as a deputy to another person. Jehanne spoke about the possibility that the deputy might be able to take part in legal proceedings for the person who is no longer able.

It was clear that mental health issues are becoming more prominent. This means that legal and medical professionals must collaborate to help clients with long-term or transient mental illnesses. We must work with our colleagues from other countries to protect the rights of vulnerable adults. This is a common law practice. Our elder law specialists and vulnerable persons’ family law lawyers surrey are doing just that and have collaborated with international governments to develop their laws. Julia Abrey, our London office leader in this field.

It was an interesting exchange of knowledge and experience, even though I have to admit that it was my privilege to be the panel chair. My fellow panel members deserve my sincere gratitude.


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