Do the Land Registry rules regarding confirmation of identity spell the end for selling property under a power of attorney?

According to Practice Guide 67 and rule 17 of the Land Registration Rules 2003, the chief land registrar is entitled to require evidence of identity of a person who has granted a power of attorney to sell a property. This can be provided by verification by a conveyancer or by form ID1.

However, consider this scenario. The registered proprietor (RP) has to go to New Zealand tomorrow and will not be back for a year. While away he needs to sell his flat in Enfield. He instructs a local solicitor to draw up a power of attorney (POA) in favour of his son, who lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne. RP provides the local solicitor with evidence of identity, POA is drafted and sent to RP, who executes the POA in the presence of his next-door neighbour.

Before flying to New Zealand, RP sends POA to son, who markets the property, instructs solicitors in Newcastle and, six months later, is ready to exchange contracts.

Problem: the solicitor acting for the attorney cannot verify identity of RP for purposes of the buyer’s AP1 form and must now try to get instructions from RP and certified copy ID from him in New Zealand. The local solicitor, being a clever sort, foresaw this potential problem and completed an ID1 form with RP and advised RP to keep the ID1 form with the POA.

New problem: the Land Registry confirms that ID1 forms are only valid for three months (and one would therefore presume that certified copies of ID documents are also only valid for three months).

So, other than RP insisting that the attorney use the same local solicitor to act on the sale, what is the point of the POA? RP might as well just instruct the solicitor on the sale before going abroad and return signed documents by post. I appreciate that there is scope for registration fraud when a POA is involved, but surely if the POA is valid for at least one year then the lD1 form should be as well.

Kenneth Winterflood, Barnes & Partners, Enfield