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What are Children’s Hearings proceedings?
If a child needs help or support because for example, of being hurt or abused, or not looked after properly, a Children’s Hearing can decide what’s best to do, for child and family.
At the Children’s Hearing, three people (panel members) will listen to the child and any other relevant people – a teacher, social workers or parents. The idea is that the panel will ultimately decide what’s best to do for the child.
The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) is the body responsible for Children’s Hearings, and how they operate. If you want good information for children and young people to explain Children’s Hearings, try the SCRA website. It has a useful jargon buster, leaflets and a video.
What’s a Children's Reporter?
Children’s Reporters administer the Children’s Hearing system. It’s their job to investigate cases referred by agencies like the police, social workers or health visitors.
The Children’s Reporter decides if cases should be referred to the Children’s Panel.
Another part of their job is to gather information about the child to help make a decision. This might mean, for example, speaking to a social worker, or teacher.
What’s Children’s Legal Assistance and can we get it?
The Scottish Legal Aid Board may be able to pay for you to get help from a lawyer. As a child or a parent going to, or having been to a Children’s Panel hearing, you may be able to get this kind of legal help.
Court hearings connected to children’s hearings can also be covered by legal assistance.
We’ll help you understand if you are eligible and the process involved in getting legal aid.
How can we help with Children’s Hearings?
In a number of ways, in fact. Firstly, advice about going to a Children’s Hearing, and what happens after it. We can prepare a report to be provided to the Hearing. We can go to the hearing with you to help you speak. Or we can actually speak for you at the hearing. Finally, if your case does go to court, a Collins & Co solicitor can represent and speak for you.
Can a child have their own solicitor?
Yes. By children, legally it means anyone under 16. However, this can also mean someone who is 16 or 17, if they are on a compulsory supervision order.
If the child is 12 or more, the solicitor has to be sure that they are old enough to understand what’s happening and able to tell them what you want to do. The same goes for children under 12-year olds.
Can children apply for legal assistance?
Quite simply, if a child’s old enough to understand why they need the help of a solicitor, they can apply for children’s legal assistance. A child aged 12 or older will, in most cases, be old enough to ask a solicitor to work for them and apply for children’s legal assistance.
If you are a child aged under 12, your solicitor has to be certain you understand what it means to ask for a solicitor’s help. It’s important to note that, as soon as a person hits 18, they are no longer considered a child.
What’s a Compulsory Supervision Order?
Once a Children’s Hearing decides that you need help and support from a social worker, they will place you on a compulsory supervision order. Then, the social work department has the legal powers to give you, and your family, supervision and support.
When should you speak to a solicitor?
The first indication that you will have to attend a Children’s Hearing is a letter from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA). This will explain the Statement of grounds, the reasons why you’ve been asked to go to your Children’s Hearing.
Once that letter arrives, consider speaking to a solicitor immediately. They will be able to explain the reasons and talk you through what’s going to happen at the hearing.
Is children’s legal assistance always available?
There are checks to find out if you need Legal Aid because you cannot afford to pay for a solicitor. We’ll advise about each of these tests because because they vary depending on the nature of your case and what stage it’s at. Find more details on the Scottish Legal Aid Board website.
What does Children’s legal Assistance cover?
It covers the advice from a solicitor before and after the hearing. In some cases, it allows a lawyer to attend the hearing or court to represent you. Our solicitors can fill you in about what might happen as a result of the Children’s Hearing, as well as what the panel’s decision means for you.
What doesn’t Children’s legal assistance cover?
It is not available for civil or criminal matters. Civil matters cover things like divorce cases or accident or injury compensation. A criminal matter is when the accused appears in an adult criminal court, not a Children’s Hearing. Our solicitors can advise about criminal matters for adults, and the availability of legal aid.
Will I have to pay for a solicitor?
Most children won’t pay for a solicitor. It’s worth checking though because those with income or savings might have something to pay. Our solicitors can advise if this applies to your particular case.
What types of assistance can I receive from Collins & Co?
Advice and Assistance
This covers things like giving you general advice before and after a Children’s Hearing. This does not include a solicitor representing you at a Children’s Hearing or related court case. You can get this if you meet a financial test of your income or savings. Rest assured, our solicitors will help you understand how this works and your eligibility.
Assistance By Way of Representation (ABWOR)
This is used so our solicitors can represent you at a children’s hearing or certain cases in the court. Only if you meet a financial test of your income or savings. You’ll also need to a reason for a solicitor to represent you at a hearing to help you take part. Our solicitors will explain all this in more detail and help advise on eligibility.
Children’s Legal Aid
This is used if your case was heard at a Children’s Hearing and then goes to court. Our solicitors can advise you about this.