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Advising the 
vulnerable client

Elizabeth Eyre sets out some of the compliance considerations for private client lawyers and discusses how the risks can be recognised and, as far as possible, managed

11 July 2016

Our society recognises certain people as vulnerable and provides protection for them. For the private client lawyer, this presents challenges as well as opportunities, particularly when dealing with the property
and financial affairs of vulnerable people.

The core definition of 'vulnerable adult' is from the December 1997 consultation 'Who Decides? Making Decisions on Behalf of Mentally Incapacitated Adults', one of the documents that (eventually) led to the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005.

We have moved on a bit in terms of terminology but the definition in paragraph 8.7 is a good starting point: 'A person who is, or may be, in need of community care services by reason of disability, age or illness; and who is, or may be, unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself, against significant harm or exploitation.'

Excellent guidance is also found in the Law Society publications 'Meeting the Needs of...

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