Q. Please can you advise me what the term ‘Bona Vacantia’ means?

A.  The term “Bona Vacantia” literally means vacant goods and is the legal name for ownerless property, which by law passes to the crown. The Treasury Solicitor is the Crown’s Nominee for the purposes of the administration of the estates of persons who die intestate and without known kin and for the collection of the assets of dissolved companies and other miscellaneous bona vacantia in England and Wales. Unfortunately due to the number of businesses dissolving in these uncertain times, a number of properties are being looked at by surveyors which fall under this category.

Bona Vacantia arises, in origin, by virtue of the Royal Prerogative, i.e. at common law. To some extent this is still the position although the right to bona vacantia of the two major categories is now based on statute: the Administration of Estates Act 1925 and the Companies Act 1985 (both as amended). The work of Bona Vacantia dates from the Norman Conquest making it the earliest duty of what is now the Treasury Solicitor.

The Treasury Solicitor undertakes its work within a framework of legislation and best practice, following Divisional procedures established and developed over many years. Its objective is to undertake the administration of estates and to dispose of the assets and collect the revenues of dissolved companies. Within legislative and other legal constraints, the Division aims to act in a business-like manner consistent with the public interest. The Division aims to be fair in all its dealings, to be as open as possible and informative as appropriate, throughout a case.