We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. View our Cookies Policy. Click Accept and continue to use our website or Manage to review and update your preferences.

Law Society engages with DSS on solicitor concerns
Aine Hynes SC, Chair of the Law Society’s Task Force

03 May 2024 / law society Print

Law Society engages with DSS on solicitor concerns

The Law Society is engaging with the Decision Support Service (DSS) on practical issues arising with enduring powers of attorney (EPAs). Through the Mental Health Law and Capacity Task Force, the Law Society is looking for solutions to address the very real concerns raised by solicitors and their clients.

The organisation is continuing to support enhancements to the legislative framework on EPAs, and decision-making arrangements that empower people to safeguard their interests in future decisions that will affect their lives. 

It believes that anyone who wishes to express their will and preference through the vehicle of an EPA or decision-making agreement should be fully supported in doing so. 

Issues raised by profession

Last June, the Law Society made a number of requests, including that: 

  • The DSS create an electronic EPA Instrument that could be easily downloaded,
  • A facility be put in place to allow solicitors to log on to the DSS portal on behalf of clients (as is the case with other public agencies), and
  • There would be a web-based form to use with clients or a paper-based workaround for solicitors and their clients.

To date, only the paper-based workaround is in place. Engagement between the DSS, the Law Society, and local bar associations is ongoing. Many Law Society members have expressed concern about one specific element of the proposed new accessibility policy that, in effect, makes the paper-based system unavailable for clients who are professionally advised by a solicitor.

The Law Society, along with members of the Dublin Solicitors’ Bar Association, met the DSS on 19 April to outline practitioner concerns, and to spell out the impact that the level of complexity and delays due to the current system were having on their clients.

Specifically, the delegation raised its concern at the proposal to withdraw the paper-based process for clients who were being advised by a solicitor (or, indeed, any professional).

Solicitor portal

The delegation also requested that the DSS should make available a web form or electronic template that could be used by solicitors and their clients. The DSS was asked to implement a solicitors’ portal.

On 24 April, over 240 solicitors attended a webinar with Áine Hynes SC (pictured, Chair of the Law Society’s Mental Health Law and Capacity Task Force) to discuss the processes relating to EPAs and decision-making arrangements, and whether the system was working as it should.

Áine Hynes said that the level of concern expressed by solicitors was extremely high.

Feedback from solicitors attending the webinar included comments that “clients have a lot of issues at outset setting up the Mygov account”; “MyDSS portal system is inaccessible and failing vulnerable clients who want peace of mind”; and “elderly clients losing capacity during the application process”.

The task force says that it continues to engage constructively with the DSS and welcomes its 29 April decision to temporarily defer the withdrawal of the paper-based process.

Members are being asked to share with the Law Society anonymised details of any practical difficulties encountered when seeking to engage with the DSS on behalf of their clients. The Law Society will then raise these matters directly with the DSS. Submissions should be sent to: mhlctf@LawSociety.ie

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland