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arrangements for the child.  It can refuse to make the decree absolute under section 18 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance (Cap 192) or appoint the Official Solicitor to represent the interests of the child, or direct that proceedings be taken to make the child a ward of court.125  If the District Court had wardship powers then it could make orders to protect the child during the course of the matrimonial proceedings, apart from using its powers under various ordinances to involve the Director of Social Welfare.

Duties of the Official Solicitor

2.67The Official Solicitor can act where so appointed by the court,126 or at his discretion where he is satisfied that the interests of justice so require and where there is no other person fit and willing to act.127  The Director of Legal Aid is the Official Solicitor.128  The duties of the Official Solicitor include acting as guardian ad litem or next friend to a person under disability of age or mental capacity, or where a person is committed to prison for contempt and who is unable or unwilling to apply to the court to purge his contempt.129  The Official Solicitor can also be requested by the Juvenile Court to act for a party involved in proceedings under the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance (Cap 213).130  The office was established in 1991 when the ordinance came into existence.  The Official Solicitor is also the Official Trustee and Judicial Trustee.131  He also took over the functions of the Crown Solicitor under rules 105(4) and 108(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Rules (Cap 179).132

2.68Where the Official Solicitor is appointed in wardship proceedings, he appears as advocate for the ward and represents the interests of the ward to the court.  He is also the guardian of the ward.  He does not represent the parents.133

b)  Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (Cap 179)

2.69This ordinance deals with jurisdiction in divorce, nullity, and judicial separation, and in proceedings for ancillary relief for maintenance from a deceased parent’s estate.  No specific power is given to the court under the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (Cap 179) concerning custody or access except in relation to the Director of Social Welfare’s powers.

Supervision order

125 Section 19(1) of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance (Cap 192).

126 Section 4(1)(a) of the Official Solicitor Ordinance (Cap 416).

127 Section 4(1)(b).

128 Section 7.

129 Schedule 1, Part 1. The Official Solicitor’s office, up to June 1995, received 285 requests for representation, mostly in matters involving receivership, unclaimed estates, adoption and guardianship.

130 Schedule 1, Part 3.

131 These functions under the Trustee Ordinance (Cap 29) were taken over from the Registrar General.

132 Schedule 3.

133 Goff J in Re R(PM) [1968] 1 WLR 385, 387.

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