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What is a Pre-Proceedings Meeting and Must I Attend?

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Yes, it is extremely important that you attend a Pre-Proceedings Meeting and that you seek legal advice.

What is the Public Law Outline?

The Public Law Outline set out the duties that Local Authorities must perform before they can issue care proceedings and ask the Court to make a Care or Supervision Order which may enable them to take a child into their care. This is the PLO process.  

The PLO process ensures that Local Authority must identify the concerns they have in the early stages of the process and they must provide support for families to address the concerns. This is known as the Pre-Proceedings period.

Prior to the pre-proceedings process, the child may have been subject a Child Protection Plan, but due to insufficient progress made by the parents, the matter escalates to the pre-pre-proceedings process. Core Groups and Child Protection Conferences continue throughout the pre-proceedings process.

There are several steps that the Local Authority must follow when they decide to enter a period of Pre- Proceedings:

Letter before Action:

This a letter is sent to the parents which outlines the Local Authority’s concerns, details what they expect the parents to do to improve the situation and the support that the Local Authority will offer in order to assist the family improve that situation.  Parents are advised to bring a solicitor with them to the initial meeting with the Local Authority.  The Pre-Proceedings letter entitles the parents to legal aid.  Parents receive a letter within five days of the decision to enter pre-proceedings

At Emery Johnson Astills Solicitors, we have a dedicated family and care team. If you have any further questions and require legal advice, please contact the office on 0116 255 4855 (Leicester) or 01509 610 312 (Loughborough).

The Pre-Proceedings Meeting:

The pre-proceedings meeting takes place within seven days of the parents receiving the ‘Letter before Action’ letter. The purpose of the meeting is to identify how the parties can reach an agreement about what needs to happen in order to protect the child from harm, and to avoid Court proceedings. The parents will have with them their legal advisor and the Local Authority has their own legal advisor. The Local Authority will explain the safeguarding concerns and the parents are informed about what they need to do to improve the situation.  The Local Authority will also provide support to the parents in order to improve the situation.  By the end of the meeting a plan is formulated, timescales are discussed and confirmed.

Period of Change:

This is the time for the parents to make the necessary agreed changes and concerns are reduced. The Local Authority provides support and the Core Groups and Child Protection Conferences monitor the case.

Pre- Proceedings Review:

This meeting takes place within six to eight weeks of the initial Pre-Proceedings meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to review the progress made regarding the concerns. If there are any issues outstanding, these are addressed further and decision is made as to how to progress the matter forward.

What are the possible Outcomes?

Pre-Proceedings ends:

  • If the parents have achieved positive outcomes regarding the initial concerns, the Local Authority may advise the parents that they are not considering issuing care proceedings and the Pre-Proceeding period ends. The matter is likely to continue at the Child Protection Plan level. However, if there are no safeguarding concerns, the Local Authority will decide that the matter can be dealt with at the Child in Need level to support the family further.

Pre-Proceedings  further period of monitoring and review:

  • If there has been some progress, but issues remain outstanding that require further pre-proceedings work, the Local Authority would recommend that a further period for change is required. Therefore, there will be a second Pre –Proceedings review that will take place between six-eight weeks. The Pre-Proceedings process should not be longer than sixteen weeks.

Pursue Care Proceedings:

  • If there has been insufficient progress made and significant safeguarding concerns remain in place, the Local Authority will seek legal advice and ascertain whether the Threshold is met under section 31 Children Act 1989 to issue care proceedings to refer the matter to Court. The parents will require legal representation at Court and they will be eligible legal aid..

At Emery Johnson Astills Solicitors, we have a dedicated family and care team. If you have any further questions and require legal advice, please contact the office on 0116 255 4855 (Leicester) or 01509 610 312 (Loughborough).