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The Official Solicitor in Family Proceedings - who are they and what is their role?
The Official Solicitor’s full job title is the Official Solicitor to Senior Courts. If someone lacks capacity within the meaning of Mental Capacity Act 2005 to conduct proceedings that person will require a litigation friend in those proceedings.
Who is the Official Solicitor?
The Official Solicitor is the litigation friend. Their job is to make decisions for people who do not have the mental capacity to represent themselves or instruct a solicitor in family proceedings. The Official Solicitor can ask a firm of solicitors to help clients who lack mental capacity with their case. The client will have a solicitor to represent them in the proceedings. The solicitor will have continued contact with the client and the solicitor is also responsible for relaying the client’s wishes and feelings.
The Official Solicitor will prepare a statement on behalf of the client for Court so that the Judge knows what the client would like to happen and will also set out in the statement what should happen in the best interests of the client.
How is the Official Solicitor instructed?
The Official Solicitor agrees to act where:
- The client is under the age of 18 or;
- The client’s Doctor or the Court does not think that they can make decisions about their Court case.
Legal matters can be stressful and difficult for clients to understand. The Official Solicitor is there to look after that client’s best interests.
The Official Solicitor will tell the solicitor what they think should happen in your case.
What is the role of the Official Solicitor?
The Official Solicitor can only make decisions for the client within proceedings. They cannot make other decisions for the client. The Official Solicitor will present any arguable case for the client and rely on the advice of the instructed solicitor. They make decisions such as what to do next in a Court case.
The Official Solicitor will consider and sometimes, where appropriate, challenge previous assessments that have taken place of the client, such as psychological assessments. The Official Solicitor may propose further assessments.
The Official Solicitor will need to know what the client wants. They will make sure the Judge knows what the client wants.
Here at Emery Johnson Astills we have Solicitors in our Care and Family team who can represent clients who are supported by the Official Solicitor. For more information please contact the Care and Family team on 0116 255 4855 (Leicester office) or 01509 610312 (Loughborough office), or contact the Care team via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org