• 3 February 2020

Claudia’s Law: created to help families of missing people

by Macks Solicitors

According to Missing People, 180,000 people are reported missing every year, with someone being reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. In addition, there are 340,000 missing incidents every year.

When someone goes missing it is an extremely upsetting and stressful time for their family and loved ones, especially if they are missing for a long period of time.

We see too often stories of people going missing, whether that be someone on social media sharing a status to say that someone is missing, or to broadcasts on TV. No matter the length of time that someone is missing, or the different circumstances, the panic and upset amongst people is common.

In some cases, people go missing and are never found. So what happens then? Though the pain of losing someone will never go away, in July last year, a new law came into place to help the families of missing people.

On July 31st 2019, Claudia’s Law, which is officially named the Guardianship (Missing Persons Act 2017) came into force. The law is named after Claudia Lawrence, who sadly went missing in 2009 after not turning up to work, something that no family should ever have to experience.

The law, which was set up by Claudia’s father, Peter, after her disappearance, is designed to help the family and loved one of missing people to deal with the administrative factors that come in the aftermath of someone going missing.

Claudia was last seen in 2009, and ten years on, the police are still no closer to finding out what happened to her. Just six weeks after her disappearance, she was categorised as a suspected murder investigation, putting a huge strain on her family and friends.

It is terribly hard and upsetting when someone you loved is categorised as a missing person, and families are already dealing with the emotional strain that come with that. With the stress that they are already under, and the upset they are experiencing, they should not have to be coping with the financial issues and day to day complications of that either.

Claudia’s Law creates a new legal position of “guardian of the affairs of a missing person” for any person who is missing for more than 90 days. Before now, there was no legal way for any financial affairs of a missing person to be managed by someone else, unless they had been announced dead, despite there being so many cases that are left unsolved.

Hopefully now with the new law in place, and the guardian or family being able to act on their behalf in the event of someone going missing, it will help ease the pressure and upset on families, and try and reduce the level of stress that little bit.

Lynda Monks, Associate Solicitor within the Wills and Probate team at Macks Solicitors says:

“This will provide considerable assistance to families at such a difficult and emotional time. The stress of dealing with the sudden and often unexplained disappearance of a loved one is traumatic enough without the additional problems of trying to look after their legal and financial affairs.

Claudia’s Law provides families with a solution to the problems by enabling them to make an application to the court for a guardian to be appointed to manage the missing persons legal and financial affairs.”

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