National Roundtable: Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) Law Reforms
10 August 2021
On 15 July 2021, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, President of the Law Council of Australia convened a national roundtable to discuss EPOA law reforms.
There is significant interest in this area given that the Meeting of Attorneys-General is currently considering a national register for financial EPOAs. The Roundtable brought together national experts from the legal sector (including the Law Council’s Constituent Bodies), public advocates, older persons stakeholder groups, law reform and human rights representatives.
The purpose of the Roundtable was to:
- increase national awareness of financial elder abuse arising from enduring power of attorney (EPOA) arrangements, and to build the public case as to why more consistent laws and a national model enduring document are required to address such abuse; and
- build consensus on the core essential features of more consistent laws which could be adopted across state and territory laws and be reflected in a national model enduring document.
To address each purpose, the Roundtable was divided into Parts A and B respectively during which three panellists addressed a number of recommendations proposed by the Law Council, followed by general participant discussion:
Part A – Why are more consistent EPOA arrangements needed?
- The Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO – Age Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
- Mr Ian Yates AM – Chief Executive Officer, Council on the Ageing (Australia)
- Mr Matt Corrigan – General Counsel, Australian Law Reform Commission
Part B – How can we achieve more consistent EPOA laws?
- Mr Darryl Browne – Chair, Law Council National Elder Law and Succession Law Committee
- The Hon. Justice Geoff Lindsay – Supreme Court of New South Wales
- Dr Kelly Purser – Queensland University of Technology
Amongst other things, general consensus was achieved regarding the following recommendations directed towards shaping the future direction of law reform in relation to EPOA laws.
- Developing more nationally consistent laws governing EPOAs and a national model enduring document should be matters of priority for Attorneys-General as they tackle the national problem of elder abuse, which is not limited by state and territory boundaries.
- Achieving greater consistency in such laws would increase clarity and awareness for all national stakeholders, including Australian families, communities, business, governments and the media, and enhance the overall effectiveness of these laws.
- Achieving greater consistency in such laws would assist the development of a national model enduring document and help to achieve other national priorities in overcoming elder abuse.
- The core essential features of such laws should address matters such as standard definitions, standard requirements for valid execution and revocation, the eligibility of the attorney, duties of attorneys, and interstate recognition of execution and revocation.
Participants also agreed that certain model provisions could form an important starting point for national law reform in this area. These are directed towards ensuring that a person making an enduring document makes an informed decision about its content and the identity of the appointed decision-maker, and that the decision-maker understands, and commits to comply with, their duties and obligations.
Further details of the agreed recommendations, as well as additional matters raised at the Roundtable, are outlined in the Law Council’s Communiqué.
As a next step, the Law Council will consult with its Constituent Bodies to further refine these proposals.