A guide to the new law for children’s hearings during Covid-19

New law has been put in place for the time being for children’s hearings and for looked after children. This law aims to protect children during this difficult time.

  • The first important thing to know is that all non-urgent children’s hearings have been cancelled until further notice. Only hearings that are REALLY ESSENTIAL to protect children or where required to protect an expiring order will be taking place and these will be done virtually.

Below are some specific changes that you might need to know about!

If you are unsure about your situation you can contact Clan Childlaw by phone, email or Facebook messenger.

Attendance at Children’s Hearings 

Normally young people and relevant persons have an obligation and right to attend a children’s hearing and there is a duty to make sure this happens and for anyone who wishes to be deemed a relevant person to be able to attend a pre-hearing panel.

  • Now children’s hearings are to happen remotely and there is no longer an obligation on a child or relevant person to attend a hearing unless they have been specifically asked. (But, very importantly, they continue to have the right to participate - see SCRA's website for the latest information on taking part in hearings here).

Panel Members 

Normally children’s hearings have 3 members, and they have to be made up of male and female members.

  • Now if it’s not possible to have 3 members there might be fewer panel members at your hearing and you might not get both male and female panel members.

Child Protection Order 

If a sheriff thinks a child is in danger and may experience significant harm due to neglect or other treatment, they will grant what is called a Child Protection Order or a CPO. Usually this will mean you have to stay somewhere other than where you usually stay.

Normally this has to be enforced in 24 hours after the sheriff makes it, and a review hearing has to take place within two working days after.

  • Now, changes have been made so there will no longer be a review hearing of the Child Protection Order.
  • However, you can still ask the sheriff to change or get rid of the CPO after it has been granted. You have 7 days after a CPO has been granted to do this.

Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO)

Normally CSOs expire after a year (and a day) or when children turn 18.

Normally 3 months before this happens there must be a review so that the order does not fall.

  • Now CSOs will expire after a year and six months, or 6 months after someone’s 18th birthday. This is to make sure that there is time for a review to take place.
  • Reviews should still take place as they normally do – 3 months before 1 year has gone by or 3 months before an 18th birthday.
  • You have the right to request a review of the CSO. If you are worried about this please contact Clan.

Interim compulsory supervision order or interim variation of compulsory supervision order (ICSO or IVCSO) 

Normally both types of orders ICSOs and IVCSOs have effect for 22 days and have to be renewed before 22 days are up. These are the short term orders that panels sometimes make when they cannot make a long term decision about what should happen.

  • Now they can (if appropriate) last for 44 days, or a sheriff can make them last longer. 

We have listed some of the changes that will effect most people who have children’s hearings coming up. However, there are a lot more changes that have been made. This list does not include everything.

If you have any questions about your children’s hearing you can call Clan Childlaw, text us, email us or message us on Facebook Messenger.

Read the Scottish Government Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 – Guidance on looked-after children and children’s hearings provisions here.

You can download a printable pdf of this guide here.

This is intended as a guide to the law in Scotland as at May 2020 and not as an authoritative statement and interpretation of the law. If you have any questions or would like further information please call 0808 129 0522 or email [email protected]