Children: general merits considerations and additional factors in reasonableness

We will apply the usual tests of probable cause and reasonableness if your client is a child.

We will also examine the application to decide whether it is reasonable to grant legal aid to a child considering:

  • Their age and ability to understand proceedings
  • If it would be more appropriate for a parent or guardian to apply on the child’s behalf.

What we will consider in deciding if someone should apply on a child’s behalf

Proceedings concerning a child’s welfare

Your client may wish to become involved in proceedings about their welfare. In such cases, we will consider carefully whether the child’s views could be adequately covered by:

  • One or other of the parties already in the action
  • The court taking account of the child’s views without the child being directly represented in the proceedings.


If we are satisfied that the child’s views can be put forward without separate representation, we may decide it is unreasonable to grant civil legal aid to allow them to enter the proceedings.

No added welfare benefit to the child

We may consider there is no added benefit to a child becoming involved in proceedings and that it is appropriate for their parent/ guardian to represent them.

Examples of this:

  • Child who wishes to raise proceedings for aliment against an absent parent outwith the UK
  • Child who wishes to raise proceedings against Education Authorities

Action needs to be taken against other bodies of the state

Reasonableness and the child’s age

We will consider a child’s age to decide whether they are:

  • In a position to instruct you
  • Capable of understanding your advice

We will consider it reasonable to grant legal aid only where we are satisfied that:

  • The child can understand the proceedings in which they are involved
  • The application is appropriately in the name of the child rather than a parent or guardian

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