(Court of Protection, His Honour Judge Cardinal, 26 October 2012)
In proceedings concerning the welfare of a young man, his aunt applied to act as his litigation friend. The Official Solicitor had twice been asked to act on his behalf but no response had been received. At an interim hearing a representative from the Official Solicitor's office reported that they would not be able to consider the man's case for a further 10 weeks. The local authority expressed concerns about the appointment of the aunt that she would not be independent or objective.
The court appointed the aunt to act as the man's litigation friend and ordered reports from a consultant psychiatrist and an independent social worker. In appointing a litigation friend the court had to be satisfied that they could fairly and competently conduct proceedings on behalf of the person and had no interests which would be adverse to them. The local authority's concerns were not made out on the evidence. If, in the future further concerns arose, the court would entertain an application to remove her very quickly.