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Children's legal assistance

Children's Hearing's (Scotland) Act 2011

The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (the 2011 Act) has made major changes to the operation of children’s hearings and to the bodies responsible for their administration and management. It has also made significant changes to the availability of legal aid in these proceedings. We worked with the Scottish Government, Children's Hearings Scotland, the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration and other justice sector partners, including the Law Society of Scotland on the implementation of these changes.

Under the previous arrangements, no form of legal aid or advice and assistance (including ABWOR) was available to enable a solicitor or counsel to represent a child or any relevant person at a children’s hearing. The 2011 Act changed that and introduced a Registration scheme, a Code of practice and an associated scheme for quality assurance for solicitors who are registered to provide children’s legal assistance.

 The 2011 Act changes can be summarised as follows:

As a result of this legislation, children’s legal assistance has been made available as follows:

Read the Equalities Impact Assessment for children's legal assistance/the legal aid aspects of the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011(the 2011 Act) - Children's Legal Assistance Equalities Impact Assessment

Following a consultation process and discussions with contributing organisations, we have published the Code of Practice in relation to Children's Legal Assistance.

The Children's Legal Assistance Register is now operating. Duty plans are now online for the Children’s Duty Scheme. Full details are available on our website’s Children’s Registration page.

If you would like to discuss the implementation of the 2011 Act, please contact:

Joe Kelly, Head of Civil Legal Assistance on 0131 240 2031 or

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