Appeal to solicitors to help cut rejection rate

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has announced steps to deal with the rising number of powers of attorney (PoAs) presented for registration – while appealing to solicitors to help cut the rejection rate.

Over the past five years the number of PoAs has risen from 47,774 received, and 42,528 registered, in 2012-13, to 72,950 received, and 54,919 registered, in 2016-17 – a 53% increase in the number received over that period. OPG is now processing more than 300 new PoAs each working day. 

Increased volumes bring a rise in associated work, such as requests for amendment, change of details or revocation. There are currently 80 such requests per day.

The OPG is presently recruiting additional staff, on a fixed term basis, to address the resulting issue of delays in processing PoAs. Turnaround times are expected to improve progressively over the rest of the year.

One of the main causes of processing delays, however, is the high level of rejected PoAs. Rejection rates are currently 22% for manual and 14% for electronically submitted deeds. This amounts to more than 12,000 deeds that require reworking, equivalent to 75% of the backlog. Submitting “clean” deeds first time “will help reduce the processing time enormously”, OPG says.

Other developments include a new online version of the public register – the office receives a significant number of calls each day for public register information and these also impact on time given to processing new business. It is hoped to have this available later in the year.

A revised electronic PoA certificate (EPOAR), to allow for a smartcard authenticated digital signature to be inserted, is also to be rolled out. This will be available very shortly.

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