Children's Hearings


This section is aimed specifically at children or adults who need advice or representation in relation to a children’s hearing or any associated court proceedings.


Important date

The law about who can get legal aid for cases related to children’s hearings changed on 24 June 2013. For a short time, there will be two sets of legal aid rules in place. Legal aid is available in more situations now so it is important that you check with your solicitor what may be available for your case.

Questions and Answers

We have listed below some Frequently Asked Questions about Children's Hearings and legal aid. If you click on a question more information will appear to help answer your query.
 
If there is something you don't understand or that isn't covered by these questions, please contact us on 0845 122 8686 or by email. 
 

What are Children’s Hearings proceedings?

A child might need some help or support because of things going on in their life or around them. For example, someone might have hurt or abused them or they may not be being looked after properly or they may have been in trouble with the police.

A children’s hearing can decide the best thing to do for the child and to help the family. At the hearing there will be three people called panel members who will listen to the child and other people with something important to say, such as teachers, social workers or parents. They will then decide what to do in the child’s best interests.

The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) has a responsibility for how the Children’s Hearings System operates. Its website has a lot of information for children and young people to explain about Children's Hearings. This includes a jargon buster, leaflets and a video.

 

What is Children's Legal Assistance?

This is how the Scottish Legal Aid Board may be able to pay for you to get help from a lawyer.

You may be able to get this kind of legal help if you are a child or an adult, such as a parent, involved in the upbringing of a child who is going to or has been to a children’s panel hearing.

It also covers court hearings that are connected to children’s hearings.

 

Can a child have a lawyer?

Yes. If you are 12 or more the lawyer will have to be sure that you are old enough to understand what is happening and tell them what you want to do.

If you are under 12 your lawyer will have to make sure you understand what is involved.

 

Up to what age is someone a child for legal purposes?

For these purposes we mean someone under 16 or up to 18 if a children’s hearing has placed that child on a compulsory supervision order. As soon as that person becomes 18 years old they will no longer be considered to be a child.

 

How do I find a lawyer?

On our website we have a tool to help people find a lawyer. It will help you find information on your nearest lawyer who offers help through legal aid, or other organisations funded by the Board that can give legal advice.

 

What will my lawyer do for me?

Our Code of Practice information sheet gives details about what your lawyer will do for you.

 

Who can get Children’s Legal Assistance?

The child involved in the hearing, the parents of the child and some other adults involved in the upbringing of the child.

A lawyer will be able to tell you if you are one of these people.

 

Is Children’s Legal Assistance always available to those people?

In most cases there are some tests to be met before we can pay for you to have a lawyer. We usually have to check that you need us to pay and that you could not afford to pay. We usually have to check that you need a lawyer to be involved.

A lawyer will be able to tell you about each of these tests and more details are available on our web site.These tests are different depending on the nature of your case and what stage it is at so it is always a good idea to check with a lawyer.

 

What does Children’s Legal Assistance Cover

It allows you to get advice from a lawyer before and after the hearing and in some cases it allows a lawyer to attend the hearing or court to represent you. A lawyer will be able to tell you the sorts of things that might happen as a result of the hearing.

For example, the panel members might decide that no action is required or they might decide that some supervision orders are needed and in some cases they might decide that the child needs to be kept in a safe place. A supervision order can contain conditions saying where the child is to live and other conditions which they must follow.

A lawyer will be able to tell you what the panel’s decision means for you and might be able to ask for the decision to be changed – called an appeal.

 

What does Children’s Legal Assistance not Cover

It doesn’t cover civil or criminal matters.

Civil matters are things like divorce cases or compensation for accidents or injuries.

Criminal matters are when someone appears before an adult criminal court instead of a children’s hearing. There is more about legal aid for civil and criminal matters on the public information part of our web site.

 

Will I have to pay anything for my lawyer

Most children will have nothing to pay but should check with their lawyer. Anyone with income or savings might have something to pay but a lawyer will be able to tell you.

The financial limits depend on the sort of help you need for a lawyer and this falls under three different types of legal aid:

  • Advice and Assistance - for advice before or after a children’s hearing

Capital - you are eligible if you have less than £1,716 disposable capital. Disposable capital is money, savings or anything else of value that you own except the house you live in. Income – you are eligible if you have disposable income of less than £245 per week.

Disposable income means the money you earn less tax and national insurance and some allowances for dependents. If your disposable income is less than £105 per week you will not have to pay anything towards your case. If your disposable income is between £105 and £245 you will have to pay something towards your case. You can find out if you are likely to be eligible and any amount you might have to pay by using our online calculator

  • ABWOR – for representation at a children’s hearing

 The financial limits are the same as those set out above for advice and assistance except in some cases where a child can be given ABWOR without any financial tests. Your lawyer can tell you more about this.

You can find out if you are likely to be eligible and any amount you might have to pay by using our online calculator

  • Children’s legal aid - mostly for court proceedings related to children’s hearings where the financial limits set out below apply but also used for a small number of children’s hearings for the child only and where no financial tests are applied

Capital - you are eligible if you have less than £7,504 disposable capital. Disposable capital is money, savings anything else of value that you own except the house you live in.

Income – you are eligible if you have disposable income of less than £222 per week. Disposable income means the money you receive in state benefits or that you earn less tax and national insurance. Allowances are made from income for things like the cost of housing, any dependents you have living with you, including any child care costs and repay ments made to debts.

If your disposable income is less than £68 per week you will not have to pay anything towards your case. If your disposable income is between £68 and £222 you will have to pay something towards your case. You can find out if you are likely to be eligible and any amount you might have to pay by using our online calculator.

 

Where else can I get information?

  • SCRA

The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) has a responsibility for how the Children’s Hearings System operates. Its website has a lot of information for children and young people to explain about Children's Hearings. This includes a jargon buster, leaflets and a video.

The SCRA website has an A-Z of its offices and hearings centres throughout Scotland and full information about how to contact them.

  • SCLC

The Scottish Child Law Centre (SCLC) - provides free legal advice for and about children and young people.

Advice Line Mon-Fri 9.30am-4.00pm - 0131 667 6333

Freecall Under 21s (landlines) 0800 328 8970 (mobiles) 0300 3301421 

Tel. Admin Line 0131 668 4400 Email enquiries@sclc.org.uk

  • Clan Child Law

Clan Child Law provides free legal advice and representation to children and young people in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Phone or text 0131 475 2567 or 075 275 66682


 

 


Quick links

Legal Aid News

19, Oct, 2014

New projects to help families tackle money worries

Read article

02, Oct, 2014

Clarification on Faculty of Advocates' select committee submission

Read article

30, Sep, 2014

Grant funding telephone survey

Read article

12, Jun, 2014

SLAB moving to new offices in Autumn 2014

Read article

12, Jun, 2014

Face to face legal services and their alternatives

Read article

14, Mar, 2014

Advocate Mark Strachan sentenced to two years imprisonment for fraud and attempted fraud

Read article

27, Sep, 2013

Annual Report 2012-2013

Read article