We live in a world of regulation where you need a piece of paper to tell you that you have complied with a regulation, says Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee

Try selling a property without the correct pieces of paper and your or the buyer’s solicitor will soon be asking whether you have the planning permission for this, or the Building Regulations (BR) consent for that, and where is the BR completion certificate and the FENSA certificate for your windows? The list goes on.

Does this mean you will have to apply for a retrospective consent for whatever is missing or can you get an indemnity policy to provide an insurance answer because of the absence of that piece of compliance paperwork? This, of course, can lead to stress and delay when the selling or buying chain you are in is asking you to hurry up and find a solution acceptable to your buyer.

In complete contrast, but still on the compliance theme, many of us of a certain age think about whether we should make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). A legally binding LPA will be found wanting unless at the time of signing you had mental capacity; in other words, whether you or someone else such as your doctor is able to judge whether you had the ability to understand what you were doing when you authorised your attorney to administer all or some of your affairs and possibly make decisions about your health and welfare.

But what if, sometime after the LPA is in operation, doubts emerge as to whether at the time it was signed, the person entering into the LPA had the mental capacity to do so? All kinds of complications can ensue. Did a learning disability exist which affected the person’s ability to sign a valid LPA?

The Office of the Public Guardian which oversees these situations can apply to the Court of Protection to resolve any mental capacity issue which existed at the time the LPA was signed, but challenging the position at court will no doubt be stressful, time-consuming and, inevitably, expensive. So, we are back to the ‘C’ word: compliance, and even if you aim to be paper-free through your computer, someone is bound to ask for a piece of paper at some stage. 

Finally, there is the recently introduced change for trustees where trusts which cover income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax among others have to be registered with the HMRC Trust Registration Service where the trust existed on or after 6 October 2020. Failure by the trustees affected by this change to so register could expose them to financial penalties.

Compliance paperwork. Happy days.

Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000