Application directly by a child for children’s legal aid for children’s court proceedings

A child is entitled to apply for legal aid without the help or intervention of any other person. Where we are satisfied this is appropriate, we will accept an application by the child.  The child must be of an age to be able to give instructions to you directly to act as their solicitor.

Where we grant legal aid to the child in this circumstance, we will pay you for all reasonable and necessary work carried out for the child.

If a child directly consults you on a children’s matter, you must form a view of the child’s general understanding of what it means to instruct a solicitor.

  • You may consider that an individual child under 12 has such a general understanding, and feel able to accept instructions directly from them. In such a circumstance you can make an application for legal aid on their behalf and, if granted, provide that child with legal representation.
  • You may consider a child of 12 or more does not have a general understanding of what it means to instruct a solicitor.  If so, the presumption otherwise applying for a child of that age under the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 will, in effect, be rebutted.  In such a circumstance you cannot act directly for the child and on their instructions and you cannot therefore provide them with children’s legal assistance. A Safeguarder can be appointed by a hearing or the court to safeguard the child’s interests in the proceedings where that child cannot directly instruct a solicitor to represent them.

If you send us an application for legal aid made by a child aged 12 or more, we will assume you have satisfied yourself that the child has a general understanding of what it means to instruct a solicitor and your application will be automatically registered in the name of the child.

If you submit an application made by a child aged under 12, you will be asked if you are satisfied that the child has a general understanding of what it means to instruct a solicitor.

If you are not satisfied you will not be permitted to proceed with the application.  If you are satisfied we may then, or at a later stage, query this with you and ask you to provide further information in this respect.  This may occur for example, where the child is very young.

Unless you are acting in a representative capacity, a very young child or a baby cannot give direct instructions to you acting as a solicitor.

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