Chancery Lane has criticised government proposals to fully digitise the lasting power of attorney (LPA) service as a danger to vulnerable people.
The Law Society was responding to a consultation from the Ministry of Justice: Transforming the Services of the Office of the Public Guardian: Enabling Digital by Default.
Under the transformation plan, the Office of the Public Guardian would create a ‘fully digital process for making and registering an LPA, where the whole process is completed online, removing the need for paper forms'.
But the Society said complete digitalisation of the process would remove safeguards provided by physical ‘wet’ witnessed signatures.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said: ‘While we welcome the partial digitisation of some services and the introduction of a hybrid form option, extreme caution must be exercised in applying a digitisation initiative to a group of people who are most vulnerable.
‘It is essential to retain the safeguard of physical signatures to prevent potential problems of abuse.’
Fluck said the proposals do not explain how the online process will work, which raises a number of questions such as whether all the parties have to use the same computer at the same time; and if not how the certificate provider will be able to confirm that a vulnerable person has not been subject to undue pressure or abuse.
Online applications for lasting power of attorney were made available earlier this year.
The government intends to make a final decision in 2014 on whether to legislate for a fully digital lasting power of attorney service.
The consultation closed on 26 November 2013.