Legal Aid

Pre- Proceedings

You can access legal aid which is funded by the Legal Aid Agency in most cases where social services are involved due to concerns about your children.

You must see a solicitor and would be entitled to free legal advice and assistance if you have received a letter from social services which reads something like this:



Re:  xxxxxxxx City Council’s concerns about your children


This is sometimes called a PLO letter or pre-proceedings letter and as a parent with parental responsibility you are entitled free representation from a solicitor. The advice is essential as the local authority are looking to go to court and wish to meet with you to discuss their concerns.

The solicitor you instruct would be able to correspond with the local authority on your behalf as well as attend any pre proceedings meetings with you and social services.

After a period of cooperation and assessment of the situation , the local authority can decide not to issue court proceedings, it is therefore important that you have professional legal advice during this process.

Care proceedings

In the event that the local authority decide to issue court proceedings to apply for a care or supervision order in respect of your child, you have a right to be involved in those proceedings. If you are a parent or you have parental responsibility in some other way, you can access free legal aid which is not dependant on your means or the merits of your case. This means that you are entitled to free representation in the court proceedings and it is important that you get in touch with an experienced child care solicitor who hold a contract with the Legal Aid Agency to assist you.

Child protection process

There are some instances where social services are involved with you due to concerns they have about your children but are not considering to go to court, they may convene a child protection conference and have your children registered under a child protection plan. In these cases you may be able to get free legal advice and assistance, this will be subject to a means assessment and we would be happy to give you initial free advice and also assess your eligibility for legal aid.

Change in representation

You may already have legal aid and are being represented by a solicitor but are not happy with the representation and progress being made in your case. In these circumstances an application can be made to the Legal Aid Agency to transfer your legal aid to another solicitor firm. You would have to approach a new solicitor who is able to take on your matter and they would then explain the process and also do what is necessary to make an application for transfer on your behalf. Ultimately it is the Legal Aid Agency’s decision to grant a transfer of your certificate of funding and it is important that should such a situation arise you approach a new solicitor urgently so that the court proceedings are not disrupted or your case jeopardised in any way.