Powers of Attorney are regularly used by parties located in this country when they want to appoint somebody abroad to deal with matters on their behalf.
Examples of where such Powers are used are:-
Buying and selling property, court proceedings, administering a deceased’s Estate and dealing with company incorporation.
If you wish to grant such a Power, it is important to realise that this will give the right to your Attorney to act on your behalf, and that you will be responsible for your Attorney’s acts as if you had carried them out yourself, provided that your Attorney works within the terms of the Power.
You should select an Attorney who you can trust and preferably one who is professionally qualified. You would be well advised to employ a qualified lawyer in the jurisdiction in which you are dealing, and you should certainly think twice before appointing a friend, or similar party.
You should ensure that the Power is drafted specifically for the matter which you are dealing with. I am regularly presented with Powers which are essentially “tear out of the book” style general precedents covering every imaginable eventuality, and these should be avoided. (If you are selling your villa, it is clearly unlikely to be appropriate to grant powers for your Attorney to pursue court litigation or incorporate a new company!).
It is essential that Powers are drafted in terms which are compliant with English and Welsh law, with regard to the form, and execution of the Power, even though the Power is for use abroad. This is a problem which I regularly come across, as our statutory requirements are not known to overseas lawyers drafting the document.
Where a Power is for a non-English language jurisdiction, it will need to include an accurate English translation, so that you know what the Power authorises, and that should be provided by a skilled translator. I have come across a number of instances of overseas parties attempting to use Google Translate, which throws up all sorts of inconsistencies. I have also seen translations where the English part is half the length of that in the foreign language, which makes one question its accuracy!
I also seen a number of cases where the Donors of Powers are dealing with property, but where the Power makes no reference to the address of the property, or the minimum/maximum price at which it is to be sold/bought. Whilst, with a professional advisor, that may be left to their formal instructions from the Donor (i.e. you, the person granting the power), if a non-professional Attorney is appointed, it is clearly very important to include such details.
Powers usually include the right for the Attorney to delegate their powers to a third party, and in certain cases the Power includes a right of sub-delegation by that third party. Whilst it is reasonable to cover a position where your Attorney becomes ill, or is otherwise unable to act on your behalf, you need to be sure that if you agree such a provision, you are comfortable that you may not know who is acting as your Attorney in those circumstances.
If you have any property or other legal affairs abroad and are considering appointing an attorney to represent you, please do not hesitate to contact Peter Collier, our resident notary, for help and assistance.