I am delighted that families whose loved ones have disappeared or are missing can now access and control their financial affairs thanks to a new law which I took through Parliament and which comes into force today. I would like to pay tribute to Peter Lawrence after whose daughter, Claudia, the law is named and who campaigned tirelessly with me for this change in the law. Claudia disappeared in March 2009.
The new law means that if a person has been missing for 90 days or more their families can take over the running of their affairs such as bank accounts, mortgages, changing investments or moving money about to keep the finances in order in their absence.
I know from talking to Peter how incredibly difficult it can be if families have the additional worry about the financial affairs of their missing loved one, without being able to do anything about it. I sincerely hope that this new law, which will enable them to take control of the finances to ensure that payments are kept up to date, will make a difference at a hugely emotional and worrying time.
Mr Lawrence said “When people are at their lowest ebb, they suddenly find that they can’t deal will these financial and practical things. Well, now that’s over. Claudia is still missing. Obviously, the fact we don’t know what happened to her is distressing. Let’s hope for everybody else’s sake that they are able to deal with their families’ affairs”.
Mr Lawrence said that he understood that there are already hundreds of families waiting to use it and that it is expected that there may be as many as 50 every year after that.
Anyone wishing to make use of the provisions in this law should make an application to the High Court. They can contact Missing People www.missingpeople.org.uk for advice about the process or for details of a solicitor who can help.