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New law to help people with disabilities

23 January 2018

A new law that will allow anyone who is unable to sign a will, due to a physical incapacity, have been lodged in the States Assembly.

It follows a case in the Royal Court which found that a person had died intestate, or without a will, after he was unable to sign his will as a result of paralysis of the hands.

Jersey’s Chief Minister Ian Gorst, on the recommendation of the Legislation Advisory Panel (LAP), has now lodged the Draft Signing of Instruments (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Jersey) Law 201.

If the laws are approved it will allow any person who is unable, by reason of physical incapacity, to sign a will, power of attorney, lasting power of attorney or affidavit to still be able to execute such documents.

The LAP have also taken care to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to provide safeguards in situations of potential vulnerability.

Work to develop this Draft Law followed an Act of the Royal Court, made on 25 March 2014. An independent report then commissioned by Collas Crill, and undertaken by Professor Meryl Thomas, was of the view that Jersey’s succession law was potentially out of step with the European Convention of Human Rights in this regard.

During the drafting process, the LAP recommended that the provisions of the proposed law be extended to include powers of attorney, lasting powers of attorney and affidavits.

The Chairman of the Legislation Advisory Panel, Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, said: “It is highly important that no person in Jersey is prevented from executing any of the documents covered by this Draft Law purely due to physical incapacity. I am pleased, therefore, that the Legislation Advisory Panel have been able to respond to the issue highlighted by both the Royal Court judgement and the independent report commissioned by Collas Crill.
“This is a positive development for our community and I hope States Members will support the Draft Law when it comes before the Assembly.”

The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, added: “I am grateful to the Legislation Advisory Panel for taking forward this important work and I was very pleased to accept their recommendation that it be lodged for consideration by the States Assembly.”

The Draft Law will be debated by the States Assembly during the sitting commencing on 6th March 2018

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