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At Hubbard Pegman & Whitney LLP, our family solicitor, Thanuja Oppilamany, has looked into the role of Official Solicitors in family proceedings.
When an individual does not have capacity to make decisions about their court cases then Official Solicitors may make decisions for them and assist them with their court cases. Therefore, the Official Solicitor becomes the “friend” who looks after the best interest of the person without the mental capacity.
It should be noted that Official Solicitors cannot make other decisions but just in relation to the court case they have been assigned to. Official Solicitors are sometimes used in family proceedings such as divorce and finance.
Official Solicitors are not usually contacted by the public. The first point of contact is your solicitor who then will contact the Official Solicitor. The Official Solicitor tends to have assistants to help them with the cases. The assistants are called case managers.
Once the Official Solicitor is on board, he/she would ask a firm of solicitor to assist with the court case. The solicitor may be someone the individual has already met or someone appointed by the Official Solicitor. It should be noted that a solicitor will be conducting the legal proceedings and the Official Solicitor will be providing the instructions on behalf of the client. The firm of solicitors’ fees will be paid by someone else, not by the Official Solicitor. There may be some disbursements which the Official Solicitor ask to be paid by the person funding the matter.
The basic criteria which needs to be met in order for an Official Solicitor to agree to act on behalf of the individual is:
- No other person, including family and friends, would be willing to act as a litigation friend;
- The individual is a protected party. Protected party, in a broad sense, means person who lacks capacity to deal with the matter. Official Solicitors will need a report completed by an expert as evidence of lack of capacity.
- There is a security for the costs for the firm of solicitors; and
- The court case is the last resort case.
At Hubbard Pegman & Whitney, our team of specialist solicitors based in Hammersmith, assisting people across Hammersmith and West London in relation to divorce and finance, are here to help you.
Amongst our highly skilled family team we have Primrose Hudson, a Family Consultant Solicitor with over 30 years in Family Law, including experience in divorce, children arrangements and finance. Primrose Hudson works closely with Thanuja Oppilamany.
For further advice and information, please get in contact with our family solicitors in Hammersmith, London on 02087359770 or fill in our simple contact form.