The Office of the Official Solicitor, part of the Ministry of Justice, acts for individuals who, ordinarily due to a lack of capacity or ability to manage their own legal affairs, are unable to represent themselves and no other suitable individual is able or willing to act.
The Official Solicitor acts:
- as a last resort litigation friend and in some cases solicitor, for children (other than those who are the subject of child welfare proceedings) and for adults who lack mental capacity
- on behalf of the Lord Chancellor in cases of international child abduction, through the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU)
- on behalf of the Lord Chancellor in cases of international maintenance claims through the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Unit (REMO)
- as the registered contact in the administration of the Child Trust Fund for children in care in England and Wales when there is no other suitable person to do so
In family proceedings, under Practice Direction 15A , the Official Solicitor is required to fairly and competently conduct the proceedings, whilst having no interest in the proceedings adverse to the protected party themselves. All steps and decisions made by the Official Solicitor must be taken for the benefit of the protected party alone.
Before accepting instructions on a matter, the Official Solicitor must be satisfied that there is satisfactory and undisputed evidence of a lack of litigation capacity, if required, from a finding of the court and furthermore, must have confirmation there is no one else willing and suitable to act. In short, the Official Solicitor is a institute of last resort. The Official Solicitor will also require confirmation that there is security for the protected party’s legal costs.
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