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John Kilcoyne & Company provide dedicated client care and clear and pragmatic advice.



Children's Hearings
The Children’s Hearings System is Scotland’s unique care and justice system for children and young people. The system deals with children and young people in need of care and protection. A number of different agencies have responsibility for how the Children's Hearings System operates. These include social work, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) and Children’s Hearings Scotland.

If a person or agency has concerns about a child or young person, they can make a referral to the Children’s Reporter. It is thereafter for the Children’s Reporter to decide if a child or young person needs to be referred to a children’s hearing. Most referrals to the Children’s Reporter are made by the police, social work and schools. However, anyone can make a referral to the Children’s Report if they are concerned about a child or young person.

Following an investigation, the Children’s Reporter has three options available to them, they can decide:
  1. a children’s hearing is not required;
  2. a children’s hearing is not required, but a referral should be made to the local authority to work with the child and family on a voluntary basis; or
  3. a children’s hearing is required.
A children’s hearing is a legal tribunal. The hearing is made up of three panel members. Panel members are volunteers who either live or work in the area in which the hearing takes place.

If the child or family does not accept the ‘grounds for referral’ (the reasons) why the Children’s Reporter has called the hearing, they are entitled to deny them. The grounds along with a list of alleged facts have to be accepted or denied by the child and family. If the child or family denies the grounds or if the child is too young to understand, case may be referred to the Sheriff Court. The court will fix a hearing for evidence to be heard by the Sheriff. It is then for the Sheriff to determine whether or not the grounds are established.

If, following a children’s hearing the child or family is unhappy with the decision it may be possible to appeal the decision to the Sheriff Court. An appeal must be lodged within 21 days of the hearing so it is important to seek advice as soon as possible.

Children’s Hearings and the decisions made by panel members can have a significant impact on children’s and families’ lives. If you have received notification that a children’s hearing has been arranged for a child in your care, or if you are unhappy with the decision of a children’s hearing, we strongly recommend you seek advice as soon as possible. Our Solicitors have extensive experience in this area of law and can guide you through the process. You are entitled to take a Solicitor with you to the hearing and you may be eligible for Legal Aid.

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