The Role of the Solicitor in the Children’s Hearings System
With an increase in the number of solicitors attending children’s hearings, our research – commissioned by the Scottish Legal Aid Board – examined the role, impact and training needs of solicitors, and how best to achieve a fair and consistent approach to monitoring and compliance.
The majority of solicitors are viewed positively by those involved in the children’s hearing system. However, there are some challenges to overcome.
There is confusion about the role of solicitors within the children’s hearing system. Specifically, there is no consistent view about whether solicitors should take the best interests of the child into account when representing their clients – that is, the parents.
This confusion does not help effective, early decision making for children in some cases.
Specific training for solicitors who want to practice in the children’s hearing system and are funded by legal aid was welcomed by all involved.
The CHIP has collective responsibility for taking forward all 6 recommendations from the study and has actioned these as part of its important improvement work.