The Children’s Duty Scheme and Automatic Legal Aid

Children’s legal aid is automatically available to a subject child (without the application of any merits or means test) where they are represented by a duty solicitor in the following hearings under the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011:

  • a S48 Application to the sheriff for variation or termination of a Child Protection Order (sheriff court)
  • a second working day hearing following the making of a Child Protection Order (a children’s panel hearing)
  • a children’s hearing which is contemplating secure accommodation authorisation and/or a movement restriction condition (continued or otherwise) in respect of the child, often referred to as a ‘secure’ hearing (a children’s panel 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 (a children’s panel hearing).

If you make an application to us for automatic legal aid as the duty solicitor for an MRC hearing, please select the ‘secure hearing’ type as we are unable at present to add this new hearing type to the list of hearings where a duty solicitor can act for the child.

If a subject 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 make a solicitor available to act as a duty solicitor to represent the subject child. We will only make a duty solicitor available where the subject child does not already have their own solicitor of choice.

If you agree to act as a duty solicitor to a child then:

  • you can provide automatic legal aid from the time you agree to this appointment
  • you should complete the appropriate Declaration Form
  • you should submit an application to us for automatic legal aid.

As there is no means or merits tests to be applied, this application will be processed quickly by us.

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

  • you cannot provide the subject child with automatic legal aid
  • you can provide ABWOR to them.

When you provide ABWOR, no means and merits tests are applied so any ABWOR application you make will also be processed quickly.

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