Independent Reports and Assessments for children’s hearings under the 2011 Act

We will consider requests for increases to cover the costs of independent reports for hearings if it can be shown that such a report is appropriate, reasonable and necessary in the particular circumstances of a case. This includes reports covering:

  • Independent Parenting Capacity Assessments
  • Independent Forensic Risk Assessments
  • Independent Rehabilitation Assessments
  • Independent Contact Assessments
  • Independent Psychological Assessments

If you make such a request you should note the following guidance:

  • We will not, as a matter of course, allow an increase for such an assessment to take place where a child is subject to Compulsory Measures of Supervision simply because your client disagrees with the Social Work Department and/or health authority/professional assessment and recommendations. Such an independent assessment will expose the child or children in question to another professional person or persons in their life which may not be in their best interests
  • If the assessment relates to the child then issues of consent are also considered by us.  If the child is old enough to withhold their consent and does so then an application for such an assessment is likely to be refused as this could not take place against the child’s wishes.
  • A children’s hearing in receipt of all appropriate background papers and reports is better placed to decide if it requires another assessment to make its decision.  Rule 61(1)(b) of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Rules of Procedure in Children’s Hearings 2013) states that a children’s hearing may require the Reporter to obtain any report from any person which the children’s hearing considers would be relevant to any matter to be determined by the hearing. If a hearing concludes that it needs an independent report from another independent social work, health or other expert and it defers or requests an early review hearing for this we consider that SCRA or CHS should meet the cost of this report.
  • The Opinion of the Sheriff Appeal Court in NR V Roma Bruce-Davies, SCRA 2018 SAC (Civ) 13 will also be taken into consideration by us when assessing an application for such a report. This indicates that failures to obtain a parenting assessment or an independent child psychologist report are not by themselves errors of law. The Court notes that there is no requirement in law for a children’s hearing to obtain either a parenting assessment or a psychologist report. The requirement is to act to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.
  • Any increase application must set out why the social work and/or health assessments are flawed and explain why another assessment is appropriate in the circumstances of the case.  You need to show the assessment is appropriate, reasonable and necessary for the stage the hearing process has reached and will directly advance the children’s hearing process rather than any associated civil permanency proceedings envisaged or instigated.

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