VICKI Pearce, head of Court of Protection and head of Private Client at Wilson Browne Solicitors, has recently been appointed as a Panel Guardian under the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 which came into force on 31 July 2019.
The panel of guardians was established and is supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
As from 1 February 2020, Vicki Pearce will, on occasions, be appointed by the court to offer services to a missing person if the court considers it to be in the best interests of the missing person (and there is no other suitable person or body able and willing to act).
The principal responsibility of a Panel Guardian is to act in the best interests of the missing person.
A person is classed as missing if the person is absent from:
* Their usual place of residence;
* Their usual day to day activities
* Their whereabouts are not known to a sufficient provision to enable that person to be contacted for the purposes of decisions relating to their property and affairs or
* The person is unable to make decisions relating to their property and affairs or to communicate such decisions for some reason outside of their control.
This does not include reasons by way of illness, injury or lack of capacity which is dealt with under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and a Deputyship Order can be obtained in these circumstances. Vicki is also a panel deputy and is able to advise on and act in the best interest of an incapacitated person.
If a person is detained in prison (or another place) they are treated for the purposes of the Missing Persons Act as a person absent from their usual place of residence and usual day to day activities.
The missing person must be missing for a period of 90 days before an application can be made.
As a guardian, Vicki will have rights and powers in relation to the following in the best interest of the missing person:
* Selling, letting or mortgaging property
* Making investments
* Executing deeds and documents
* Recovering money owed to the missing person
* Discharging debts
* Resigning trusteeships
* Bringing or conducting legal proceedings
* Making a gift out of the missing person's property
Guardians are supervised by the OPG and their costs are paid from the assets of the missing person. Such costs will be assessed by the Senior Courts Costs Office to ensure that they are both reasonable and proportionate.