Official Solicitor and Public Trustee
Official Solicitor & Public Trustee
81 Chancery Lane
DX 0012 London/Chancery Lane
Tel: 0207 911 7127
Fax: 0207 911 7105
Practice note (PDF 0.04mb)
Published 22 April 2013
Revocation of the Lord Chancellor's direction in relation to contemnors (PDF 0.03mb)
Published: 15 February 2013
Official Solicitor/Court of Protection - acceptance of appointment as litigation friend
Official Solicitor's current general position when invited to act as litigation friend in Court of Protection healthcare and welfare cases.
The Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee are independent statutory office holders. Their office (OSPT) is an arms length body of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that exists to support their work. The Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee each have a number of separate functions, although their respective trusts, estates and deputyships are managed by the same team. The services they each provide can be best understood by reference to their respective statutory duties and functions.
The Official Solicitor, by providing front line services, provides access to the justice system to those who are vulnerable by virtue of minority or lack of mental capacity where that is needed. In so doing the Official Solicitor mitigates
- the disadvantage that his clients experience because of their disability or age.
- the vulnerability of his clients to social exclusion.
The Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee provide last resort trustee, executorship and deputyship services.
The appointee to the office of the Official Solicitor to the Senior Courts is Alastair Pitblado; the appointee to the office of Public Trustee is Eddie Bloomfield.
There are around 135 staff, all of whom are civil servants. 22 are lawyers with the remaining staff specialising in particular areas of the work. About 40 of the staff are caseworkers, all of whom have access to in-house legal advice where appropriate, and some of whom have the conduct of cases under the direct supervision of the lawyers.
The working relationships between the Official Solicitor and the MoJ and the Public Trustee and the MoJ are set out in MOUs dated 08/01/2010 (PT/MoJ) and 05/05/2010 (OS/MoJ).
The Official Solicitor is appointed by the Lord Chancellor under section 90 of the Senior Courts Act 1981. One of his purposes is to prevent injustice to the vulnerable by
- acting as last resort litigation friend, and in some cases solicitor, for adults who lack mental capacity and children (other than those who are the subject of child welfare proceedings) in court proceedings because they lack decision making capacity in relation to the proceedings.
- acting as last resort administrator of estates and trustee.
- acting as last resort property and affairs deputy in relation to Court of Protection clients.
As an office holder of the Senior Courts he also
- acts as advocate to the court providing advice and assistance to the court; and under Harbin v Masterman making enquiries on behalf of the court.
And he also
- through the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) carries out in England and Wales the operational functions of the Lord Chancellor, who is the Central Authority under the Hague and European Conventions on Child Abduction.
- through the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) Unit carries out in England and Wales the operational functions of the Lord Chancellor who is the Central Authority for international maintenance claims.
- is appointed, in place of a parent, to act as the registered contact in the administration of the Government’s Child Trust Fund scheme for those children in care in England and Wales when there is no other suitable person to do so.
However changes in procedures and law, now mean the Official Solicitor rarely takes action other than to remind those sent to prison for contempt of their right to apply to remove their contempt.
The Public Trustee is appointed under section 8 of the Public Trustee Act 1906. He acts as executor or administrator of estates and as the appointed trustee of settlements.
His aim is to provide an effective executor and trustee service of last resort.
In addition the Public Trustee
(a) is the legal holder of land under Part IV of the First Schedule to the Law of Property Act 1925 (land held in undivided shares) and Part V of the First Schedule to the Law of Property Act 1925 (Common Land),
(b) takes title on death under section 9 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925, and
(c) maintains a register of notices affecting land under Section 18 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1994.
Our vision is that OSPT will be a modern, dynamic organisation delivering high quality and efficient client-focused services for vulnerable persons, where those services need to be provided by the public sector.
We are here to achieve justice for those who need our services, to protect the legal, welfare and financial interests of our clients through specialist services designed to meet their needs, and to deliver those services efficiently and effectively to provide value for money to our clients and the taxpayer.