Children’s legal aid is automatically available to a child (without the application of any merits or means test) under limited circumstances:

  • A S48 Application to the sheriff for variation or termination of a Child Protection Order
  • A second working day hearing following the making of a Child Protection Order
  • A children’s hearing which is contemplating secure accommodation authorisation in respect of the child (often referred to as a ‘secure’ hearing)
  • A  children’s hearing following the child being apprehended by the police and kept in a place of safety for the alleged commission of an offence (often referred to as a ‘custody’ hearing)

If a child is due to appear at any such court or panel hearing and they are old enough to instruct a solicitor directly, SCRA informs us and we will appoint a duty solicitor to represent the child. We will only appoint a duty solicitor where the child does not already have their own solicitor of choice.

If you are appointed to act as a duty solicitor to a child then:

  • You can provide automatic legal aid from the time you accept the appointment
  • You should submit an application for automatic legal aid
  • As there is no means and merits tests to be applied this will be processed quickly

Where you are acting as the child’s solicitor of choice at one of the above hearings:

  • You cannot provide automatic legal aid
  • You can provide ABWOR
  • No means and merits tests are applied so any ABWOR application you make will also be processed quickly

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