New power of attorney law reforms to protect victims of financial abuse

Wills and Estates | Insights

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Victims of financial abuse caused by the misuse of a Power of Attorney now have more accessible remedies to seek compensation against their errant attorney thanks to new changes to the ACT’s Powers of Attorney Act 2006and Guardianship and Management of Property Act. These law reforms are particularly important for older people who are most vulnerable to elder and financial abuse.

Previously, victims of financial abuse were limited to seeking compensation against misbehaving attorneys in the ACT Supreme Court – a process that can be timely, expensive and confusing. But now, victims can also seek recourse through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘ACAT’) – a much more time and cost effective, straightforward option.

Under the new laws, ACAT has the same powers as the ACT Supreme Court to order compensation or damages to victims of financial abuse. Applications to the ACT Supreme Court or ACAT can be made by the victim or an interested family member or friend. Alternatively, ACAT may make orders for compensation or damages on its own initiative.

Orders for compensation or damages may be made against an attorney if the attorney is found to have breached their legal duties and obligations, including not acting in the victim’s best interests or misappropriating the victim’s money or property. There are still some protections in place, however, to reduce the liability of attorneys who may have unintentionally breached their duties.

See article here.