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What is Pre-Proceedings?
The Local Authority issue the pre-proceedings process where there are significant concerns regarding a child or children that are suffering harm or a child or children that are likely to suffer serious harm. This could be physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. The pre-proceedings process can be issued for a child who has not yet been born but may be at risk of suffering significant harm.
When a Local Authority begins the pre-proceedings process, it means that they have significant concerns regarding a child’s safety and whether their basic needs can be met by the parents. It means that the Local Authority have begun to consider whether they will need to instigate care proceedings in the Family Court, which could lead to the child being taken into the care of the Local Authority. However, the pre-proceedings process provides parents with one last opportunity to help mitigate the concerns of the Local Authority an improve on their ability to look after their child in a safe and protective manner.
What is in the Pre-Proceedings Letter?
The pre-proceedings process begins with a letter being sent to the parents of the subject child, which will explain the following:
- The concerns of the Local Authority
- The support that has already been offered to each parent by the Local Authority
- Further steps that the Local Authority would like parents to complete to help mitigate their concerns
- The details of a ‘Pre-Proceedings Meeting’
- Directions to instruct a solicitor
Will I Qualify for Legal Aid?
All parents that are involved in the pre-proceedings process are automatically entitled to Legal Aid. It is important that parents take their letter to a solicitor not just so that they can understand the situation, but the letter will be your proof of pre proceedings to receive Legal Aid.
What Happens in a Pre-Proceedings Meeting?
The Local Authority’s legal representative and social worker will explain to the parents what their concerns are and provide examples of why they have these concerns. This could be examples of physical or emotional harm that the child or other people have reported to the police or social worker. At this point, if a parent disputes some of the concerns or events that have been listed, their solicitor will discuss this with the Local Authority. Thereafter, the Local Authority will ask each parent whether they agree to the further steps outlined in the letter that they would like them to take, such as a drug test or engaging with courses regarding domestic violence. A date will then be set for a review pre-proceedings meeting to make sure that there is progress being made. If no progress is being made, the Local Authority may then issues proceedings with the Court.
How Johnson Astills can Help?
If you have been sent a pre-proceedings letter by the Local Authority then we can help. Please contact Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.