York & North Yorkshire

Claudia Lawrence: New law set to come into force

Peter Lawrence with his daughter Claudia
Image caption Peter Lawrence has campaigned to bring about a change in the law

A new law named after missing chef Claudia Lawrence is being brought in to help the families of those who have disappeared.

"Claudia's Law" creates a legal status of guardian of the affairs of a loved one missing for 90 days or more.

The legislation, in memory of the 35-year-old, who went missing in York in 2009, will come into effect on 31 July, the government has confirmed.

Father Peter Lawrence said it would be a great help to thousands of families.

Previously, when someone went missing, their family had no legal right to step in and manage their affairs.

Instead families could only take over the financial matters if they declared them dead, adding emotional pressure at an already difficult time.

The new legislation, officially known as the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act, establishes a new legal mechanism to deal with the property and financial affairs of a loved one.

Mr Lawrence, who has campaigned for the law change, told the BBC earlier this year: "What you're faced with is bank and other companies, quite rightly saying, 'I'm sorry, you're not our customers we cannot take your instructions'.

"This will enable that guardian to do what everybody else does every day - move money around, change mortgages, cancel direct debits and goodness knows what else."

He added: "It is one less burden at a time when families are at their emotional lowest ebb."

Miss Lawrence disappeared on her way to work as a chef at the University of York.

North Yorkshire Police believe she was murdered but despite a lengthy investigation no-one has been charged in connection with her disappearance.

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