Applications for legal aid by curators ad litem for children

Where the sheriff appoints a curator ad litem to a child, at the first instance, unless the court directs otherwise, the pursuer is responsible for the curator’s fees and outlays. These can be incurred during the period from the curator’s appointment until:

  • They lodge a minute stating that they do not intend to lodge defences or enter the process
  • They decide to instruct the lodging of defences or a minute adopting defences already lodged
  • Their appointment is discharged before either of the above occurs.

We consider that probable cause will generally be established if the curator shows that they are entitled to enter the proceedings on the child’s behalf.  The application should be made in the name of the child and should be clear the person is acting in their capacity as curator ad litem for the child.

To show reasonableness, the application should focus on the need for the child’s interests to be separately represented.  It should address such matters as:

  • Any conflict of interest which has arisen or might arise between the child and both parents
  • Any way in which the views of the child are not identical or broadly similar to one or other parent
  • Any undue pressure placed on a child or manipulation of the child by one or other of the parents
  • Any open conflict between the parties such that the interests of the child are in danger of being overlooked
  • Why the views of the child can only be conveyed to the court by representation as opposed to any other means

Irrespective of the terms of appointment, the statutory tests of probable cause and reasonableness must be addressed and met before a grant can be made.

Our evidential requirements are:

  • Copy of the pleadings to date
  • Copy of the interlocutor of appointment
  • Note by the curator stating why they consider there is a need for separate representation
  • Copies of any statements obtained or reports prepared as part of the initial investigations.


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