Independent experts attending and participating at children’s hearings

We are sometimes asked for increases in authorised expenditure where ABWOR is in place to allow expert witnesses/report writers to attend children’s hearings. While each case will be determined on its own facts and circumstances it is unlikely that we will, routinely, grant an increase for such attendance even where an increase has been granted to obtain an independent report

This is because:

  • Experts very rarely attend hearings as this is not usually considered appropriate and necessary.
  • A children’s panel hearing is not a court hearing.  It should be non-adversarial and non-legalistic to encourage effective participation of the child and all other relevant persons.
  • It is not the function of a children’s hearing to decide on disputed issues of facts.  The role of the hearing, as confirmed in the Opinion of the Sheriff Appeal Court in NR V Roma Bruce-Davies, SCRA 2018 SAC (Civ) 13, is to act to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.
  • It is always open to panel members to defer the hearing or seek an early review hearing, if they wish to hear from someone who could help them in making a decision on the Compulsory Supervision Order in place for a particular child.

 

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