Power of Attorney Problem

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    Power of Attorney Problem

    I have a properly witnessed Power of Attorney giving me full control of some properties, save that I am specifically not permitted to take out any loan against the properties, nor sell them. The owner is in Africa where the only communication is by e-mail/skype from her occasional visits to a nearby town's internet cafe.

    A tenant is currently owes over four months rent, and PCOL was used once two months was unpaid.

    Hearing was listed and I duly attended with the original PoA, plus a copy for the court file.

    I previously attended an eviction hearing two years ago, and the judge at this hearing accepted me as representing the owner, taking a copy for the court file after looking at the original.

    However, on this occasion the judge said that he would not accept me representing the owner using a Power of Attorney - she either had to instruct a lawyer, or attend herself.

    He was minded to strike out the case, but as the defendant didn't attend decided to adjourn to mid-July.

    I've never heard of this, so is he right about the PoA? Any suggestions?
    On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Because of the number of posts I have done, I am now a Senior Member. However, read anything I write with the above in mind.

    #2
    Anyone holding Power of Attorney (X) can generally do whatever the Principal (Y) ('donor') could do. If Y could represent self, X can too.
    BUT there are time limits for 1971 Act Powers- usually one year- after which X needs to prove its continuing validity by Stat. Dec.
    Maybe the action two years ago was within a year of Y granting the Power to you.
    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

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      #3
      Section 10 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1971 says that a power of attorney in the form set out in the Act confers on the attorney "authority to do on behalf of the donor anything which he can lawfully do by an attorney", but does not spell out what an attorney can lawfully do. Googling produced this document: http://www.friendsprovident.co.uk/doclib/cts10.pdf. See page 5 where there is a list of things that attorneys cannot do. Included in the list is "Appearing in court, in the donor’s place, as a witness".

      If you are a litigant in person you not only represent yourself, but also appear as a witness for yourself. Accordingly it would seem that the judge is correct that you cannot appear for the landlord. Further, whilst the rules may be relaxed in the county court, I think the rule is that either a litigant in person conducts his own case or he instructs a lawyer - to allow anything else undermines the protection the law affords to litigants by only allowing suitably qualified persons to conduct advocacy in the courts.

      Whether the proceedings were properly begun is a different question. The answer may turn on whether you are conducting litigation or simply initiating it for the owner.

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        #4
        Surely all you have to do is instruct a solicitor to go to the adjourned hearing and ask him/her to request the court to add on those costs to be awarded against the tenant???????

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          #5
          Thank you all for your most informative replies. I now see the logic behind the judge acting as he did.

          Shame he didn't feel like acting pragmatically as other have: the tenant has had is benefit suspended for some time now, doesn't seem bothered about it, and is just sitting pretty waiting for the inevitable.

          I attended court yesterday on one of the possession hearing days and had a word with the duty solicitor. She will be happy to assist (for a fee, of course).
          On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Because of the number of posts I have done, I am now a Senior Member. However, read anything I write with the above in mind.

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