News

New OPG process to be implemented from 29 March 2021

Feb 10, 2021

Engaging with prospective lay financial guardians at outset or civil legal aid stage

Over the past three years we have reviewed key guardianship processes and consulted on them to improve what we do.  As a result of the review we introduced the professional guardianship scheme and we will be looking to implement a more tailored approach to supervising lay financial guardians in 2021. 

Our review highlighted critical issues in the early stages of the guardianship process in that many lay financial guardians did not understand what was expected of them prior to taking up their appointment. Experience depicts that a large proportion of lay financial guardians were unable, unwilling or found it difficult to comply with supervision requirements. 

These are significant issues and to help address and improve the situation it is vital to engage with lay prospective financial guardians much earlier in the guardianship process in order to:

1) outline the responsibilities associated with the role, and 

2) risk assess suitability. 

We have been working on a ‘Declaration Form’ which would offer an opportunity to engage with lay prospective guardians and explain apprise their duties and responsibilities at the outset. We consulted with the Law Society of Scotland to seek their views and comments on this change to practice.

Solicitors should note this change as they will be instrumental in ensuring the court is provided with sufficient information to allow the suitability of lay prospective financial guardians to be fully assessed.

New Declaration Form for financial guardians

All lay prospective financial guardians will be asked to complete a Declaration form which will capture information in relation to the:

·         contact details of the adult and prospective financial guardian

·         details of the prospective guardian’s personal and financial circumstances

·         duties and responsibilities of the role and a declaration

The completion of the form will ensure that prospective lay financial guardians understand what is expected of them and that they agree to the responsibilities of the role prior to the application being lodged with the court. 

How will it work?

We ask that the ‘Declaration form’ is given to clients at the outset or civil legal aid stage and that it is completed and returned to the solicitor acting for them. The form should then be sent to this office along with intimation of the summary application.

If we do not receive the form we will write to the prospective lay financial guardian to ask that they return the completed form to us five days before the court hearing date.

We will send a copy of the form to the court along with our letter outlining our observations.  We will observe to the court whether the form was completed and returned. When appropriate we will direct the Sheriff to any sections of the form which may promote the suitability of the prospective guardian or to any section which may flag concern in respect of their suitability.

The information captured at this stage will provide the court with adequate information to fully assess the prospective financial guardian’s suitability. 

Implementation date

This change will come into force on 29 March 2021. However solicitors may wish to start using the form and issue it to clients right away. This will help promote familiarity with the form and raise awareness of the associated processes. 

For further information please email: opgorders@scotcourts.gov.uk