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Attendance of solicitors at local authority Children Act meetings

The Law Society publishes practice note

On 9th August 2016 The Law Society published apractice note relating to attendance of solicitors at local authority Children Act meetings.

The Law Society's guidance has been sought on the application to local authority Children Act meetings of Outcome 11.01 and Indicative Behaviour 11.4 in the Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct 2011.

It has been suggested that if parents have retained a solicitor who is not present at the local authority Children Act meeting, then the local authority solicitor can only attend the meeting with the parents' solicitor's consent. It is the Law Society's view that this is not the case and that giving legal advice to a local authority Children Act meeting should not be construed as 'communicating with another party' when parents are participants at the meeting.

A local authority solicitor attending a local authority Children Act meeting may fall foul of these regulatory provisions if he or she were to listen to the discussion at a meeting in which parents are participating but are not legally represented and then were to use the knowledge of that discussion to advantage in the cross-examination of a parent in any subsequent court proceedings.

For the practice note, please click here.