Legal Planning Meetings
RELEVANT LINKS AND GUIDANCE
This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Pre Proceedings Meetings Procedure.See also the government guidance 'Preparing for Care and Supervision Proceedings' published by the Ministry of Justice in August 2009.
- The Public Law Outline requires that a formal Legal Planning Meeting must be held before the Local Authority starts Care Proceedings. In all cases where proceedings are contemplated, an initial Legal Planning Meeting (sometimes called a 'Gateway' Meeting) must be held. If proceedings are not taken at that stage, but become necessary later, e.g. because the parents have failed to cooperate following the issue of a Pre Proceedings Letter, then a further Legal Planning Meeting must be held;
- The child/ren's Social Worker, the Team Manager and a member of Legal Services must take part. Others, such as a worker who has performed an assessment, may be invited if considered necessary;
- The meeting will normally be held at Legal Services. At the discretion of Legal Services, if the case is not very complex, or the circumstances are exceptionally urgent, it may take the form of a telephone conference;
- The purpose of the meeting is:
- To establish whether the Threshold Criteria for taking Care Proceedings are met;
- If so, whether Care Proceedings are necessary to protect the child/ren;
- If so, whether the case is so urgent that there should be an immediate application to court, for and Emergency Protection Order or Interim Care Order if a Pre-Proceedings Letter should be issued; and
- To draft the Pre-Proceedings letter if necessary.
Note: where children are already Section 20 Accommodated there should be no delay in issuing proceedings where this is required.
- A standard Agenda for the meeting is provided in Appendix 1: Standard Agenda;
- A Proforma and Checklist of Documents can be found in Appendix 2: Proformas and Checklist of Documents. These are to provide:
- A record of the information available to the meeting; and
- A record of the advice given and plan of action made at the meeting.
- Before the meeting, the Social Worker should:
- Complete Part 1 of the Legal Planning Meeting Proforma, so far as possible; and
- Attach all available documents referred to in the Checklist of Documents.
- At the meeting, legal advice will be given, a plan will be made and time scale set for the various actions decided upon in the plan to be carried out, and Part 2 of the Legal Planning Meeting Proforma will be completed as a record of the meeting;
- Following the Legal Planning Meeting, the agreed action will be taken within the timescale agreed.
Appendix 1: Standard Agenda
The standard agenda is set out below, and can be downloaded and printed.
Appendix 2: Proformas and Checklists
Proformas and a Checklist are available for download, please click on the highlighted text as appropriate: