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Financial abuse, statutory provisions and the courts: adequacy and analysis of enduring and lasting powers of attorney

Owen P. O'Sullivan (Fellow in Medical Education, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK; a Specialty Registrar in Forensic Psychiatry, North East London Forensic Psychiatry Training Scheme, London, UK and a post-graduate law student, Northumbria Law School, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 9 July 2021

Issue publication date: 11 August 2021




Financial abuse can be difficult to detect, and it is deemed to have the same potential to cause distress as other forms of abuse. The delegation of financial affairs brings with it the scope for degrees of exploitation. This study aims to assess the adequacy of the statutory provisions and courts in England and Wales at protecting at risk older people from the harm of financial abuse.


This review focuses on the enduring power of attorney and the lasting power of attorney provisions. Cases discussed were selected based on their judgments’ significance in relation to these powers, the range of issues illustrated and the extent of associated commentary and attention received in the literature. This piece is presented as a narrative review, and as such, references to case law and associated commentary are non-exhaustive.


Shortcomings and vulnerabilities are identified and explored with respect to both provisions. These are contrasted and contextualised in view of the broader challenges and complexities associated with preventing financial abuse within society. Key consideration is given to powers of creation, registration, supervision, objection and revocation in addition to the role and powers of both the Office of the Public Guardian and the Court of Protection.


Given these powers of attorney are exercised during a donor’s lifetime, they will directly experience their effects. This review illustrates there remains scope for further reform to introduce new safeguards and bolster existing ones to mitigate the risk of financial exploitation and to support people to plan and safeguard their financial future with increased confidence and security.



This article was adapted from work undertaken during postgraduate study in mental health law at Northumbria University. Research funding: None. Conflict of interest: None.


O'Sullivan, O.P. (2021), "Financial abuse, statutory provisions and the courts: adequacy and analysis of enduring and lasting powers of attorney", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 253-262.



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