Clan Childlaw very much welcomes the changes to Children's Hearings rules approved by the Scottish Parliament on 3rd February 2021. These changes will make sure that brothers and sisters can take part in decisions at Hearings that might affect them seeing each other. The changes also make it clear that brothers and sisters can mean anyone with an ‘ongoing relationship with the character of a relationship between siblings’. So brothers and sisters don’t have to share a parent, they just need to have lived together and to be important in each other’s lives.

Clan Childlaw has been working towards changes to the law and improvements in practice around sibling rights for many years. After Clan was founded in 2008, it quickly became clear that losing contact with brothers and sisters was a common issue for our clients and it’s one that we still see frequently today.  

Siblings do already have the right to ask to take part in their brother or sister's Hearing, and the lawyers at Clan Childlaw regularly help young people in these situations. But the changes to the rules will build on those rights and, importantly, should mean that brothers and sisters always have their rights respected. 

These changes follow a case last year about a 14-year-old called ‘ABC’ who wanted to be involved in decisions made about his brother at Children’s Hearings. Clan Childlaw represented ABC, who took his case about sibling rights all the way to the Supreme Court. You can read more about that case here

Alison Reid, Principal Solicitor at Clan Childlaw, said:

“We are pleased to see these changes which strengthen sibling’s rights within Children’s Hearings in Scotland. The case of ABC has led the way in Scotland to a wider understanding of the importance of sibling relationships and the need for brothers and sisters to be involved in decision-making. The changes to the law are a fitting legacy for ABC and for all the young people who have been powerless over the years in the face of decisions with devastating and lasting consequences being taken without their views, and often without their knowledge.”

The Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd MSP said the new rules “will allow a broader and more inclusive approach to be taken to siblings’ involvement in children’s hearings.”

The changes to the rules will take effect on 26th July 2021, but it is really important to know that brothers and sisters already have the right to ask to be part of their sibling's Hearing and give their views. Our lawyers can help young people to do just that. 

If you have any questions or would like further information please call us on 0808 129 0522 or email [email protected].

Further Reading

The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Rules of Procedure in Children’s Hearings) Amendment Rules 2021.