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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 17:10 GMT
Law may alter for tsunami missing
Woman scans photos of people missing in Phuket
Some 299 Britons are presumed to have died in the tsunami
Families of Britons missing in the Asia tsunami may not have to wait seven years before their relatives are declared legally dead.

The lord chancellor told BBC Radio 4 ministers hoped to announce within days a way to waive the legal time limit in cases where no body is found.

The move would allow some 300 families to resolve the financial affairs of their missing relatives sooner.

"The idea of waiting for seven years is unthinkable," Lord Falconer said.

"The particular problems individuals face are much too intense for that period of time to elapse," he told the World at One programme.

It has got to be sensible, it has got to be watertight, but above all it has got to help the families of the victims
Lord Falconer

"We need to produce a solution as soon as we can," he added.

"It has got to be sensible, it has got to be watertight, but above all it has got to help the families of the victims."

The move is being welcomed by the Conservatives Foreign Affairs spokesman Mark Simmonds.

"What we want to do is enable the facilitation of the speedy resolution for those families who very tragically lost loved ones and relatives in this terrible disaster," he said.

Without a death certificate relatives may be unable to claim life insurance payments, resolve mortgages or sell property.




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