Efforts to help UK families 'in limbo'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Whitehall officials are urgently trying to find a way around laws that would consign relatives of British people missing, presumed dead in the Asian tsunami disaster to seven years of legal limbo.

Whitehall officials are urgently trying to find a way around laws that would consign relatives of British people missing, presumed dead in the Asian tsunami disaster to seven years of legal limbo.

Downing Street confirmed yesterday that the number of Britons presumed to have died in the catastrophe stands at 400, including 51 confirmed dead. Unless a body can be produced to confirm a death, English law demands a person's assets be frozen for seven years, making it impossible for relatives to settle their affairs or claim inheritances.

It is understood that meetings have been held in Whitehall to try to hammer out a solution. But the laws governing death and inheritance cut across several departments, making it difficult to come up with a quick solution. The issue affects the Home Office, Foreign Office, Cabinet Office, Treasury and Department for Constitutional Affairs.

The Foreign Office said in a statement: "As yet, no decisions have been made, but due to the exceptional circumstances, Her Majesty's Government are urgently looking into it."

There was better news for the families of victims from insurance companies, which said that only "reasonable evidence" - not necessarily a death certificate - would be needed to claim for those presumed dead.

Comments