At Charles Ferguson Solicitors we regularly act for clients in Children’s Hearings cases, formally Children’s Panel cases. We also represent clients in associated hearings, such as Grounds Referral’s at the Sheriff Court.
For many clients, these hearings are difficult and understandably emotional moments in the lives of a family. We provide understanding, straight-talking, supportive advice and representation to our clients. We are here to assist our clients – we do not judge. At all times we represent our clients in these matters to the best of our considerable ability. We ensure our clients’ views and opinions are appropriately and robustly voiced and considered by the relevant authorities.
Changes in the Legal Aid system in Scotland mean that many persons including parents, grand parents and other relatives are now able to have solicitors appear with and represent them at these important hearings concerning their children’s lives and future.
A children’s hearing usually begins due to the social work department raising concerns with the children’s reporters body. The parents/carers of the child/children (called a “relevant person”) and (depending on the child’s age) the child themselves, among others, are provided with a document explaining the grounds as to why the matter has been referred to the reporter’s agency.
For example, if you are a parent and you receive a document from the children’s reporters scheduling a panel and providing a Grounds of Referral, it is vitally important, even at this early stage that you do not delay and seek immediate legal advice from a solicitor. If the grounds are not challenged it can present difficulties later on at later children’s hearings. At Charles Ferguson Solicitors, we are highly skilled at negotiating with relevant parties to amend the Grounds appropriately preventing the matter from needing to go before a Sheriff. In many cases this leads to a favourable outcome for all concerned. If it is not appropriate to accept the grounds and they are in dispute, a hearing before a Sheriff is set, and evidence may be led. At these hearings Legal Aid is available to a number of persons, including parents (depending on income) with no contributions being due. We would appear with you and represent you in court.
After the evidence is heard, the Sheriff has a number of options including rejecting the grounds meaning that a children’s hearing is no longer necessary. Alternatively, the Sheriff can find the grounds proved, or chose to alter/amend the grounds. In these cases the matter is sent back into the reporter’s system and a children’s hearing is set.
Given the wide range of powers which the panel members have concerning the young person and their families lives, subject to income based and legal tests, you can have a solicitor appear with you.
By having an experienced Solicitor with you at a panel or hearing, it allows you the best opportunity of putting forward your views and thoughts concerning difficult issues and decisions which need to be made – and ultimately can lead to you achieving the best outcome for your family and child and allow your family to move forward. At a children’s hearing the members of the panel have a number of powers and options available to them. The most common powers include Compulsory Supervision Orders and Interim Orders. These orders can put in force conditions concerning the child, for example who the child can see, when they can see them, and commonly where the child lives.
Our solicitors experience in these delicate and difficult matters mean our clients are assured that their views are clearly explained and robustly represented at the hearing, allowing the opportunity for the appropriate goals to be achieved for our clients.
If you, a family member, or a friend requires assistance and representation in this difficult and complex area of law, please do not hesitate to contact our office on 01698 285885, or call 07892 716566 for our 24 hours, 7 days a week helpline – we are here to help.