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3.3 Public Law Outline


  1. Introduction
  2. Pre-proceedings
  3. Legal Planning Process
  4. Actions Prior to Making an Application and Making an Application
  5. Making an Application
  6. Children's Involvement
  7. Documentation

1. Introduction

This section outlines some of the key requirements of PLO and should be read in conjunction with Public Law Outline (PLO): Applications to court care proceedings. Professional Operational Guidance May 2016. The full guidance contains information about all the processes and documentation which social workers and their managers will need.

2. Pre-proceedings

It should be noted that all work undertaken from the moment of referral could result in proceedings. In this sense all work is potentially pre-proceedings. The processes of referral and assessment – through “NARRATES” and on into work with children subject to plans all needs to be undertaken with this in mind. Good recording and good quality planning will be expected in any case but both would support the efficacy of work under PLO should that become necessary.

In addition it is not only good practice but it is likely to be extremely helpful if practitioners can routinely commence work on Genograms, Eco Maps and Chronologies at an early stage. There is extensive guidance for this within the document NARRATES Professional Operational Guidance. This will make the task of preparing for proceedings much more straightforward should it become necessary, and it is also highly likely that the availability of such tools and information is going to help inform decision making at an early stage.

3. Legal Planning Process

The Team manager and Social Worker must refer to the AG’s chambers for legal advice using the form PLO1 and then convene a Legal Planning Meeting /legal advice discussion with the Advocate before any decision is made to initiate a care proceedings application.

The decision to commence any application for legal intervention must then be approved by the permanence and legal panel and /or authorised agency decision maker. If exceptionally a decision is made in principle at the Permanence Panel before a legal planning meeting is held then the evidence still needs to be presented and recorded at a legal planning meeting and then formally ratified as appropriate by the agency decision maker or panel.

The panel (or in emergency the decision maker) will need to confirm the decision before any resources can be considered for the child or family.

All records of legal advice and decisions should be recorded as outlined on the form PLO2 and placed on the electronic file in the child’s Protocol record.

4. Actions Prior to Making an Application and Making an Application

One of the outcomes of the legal planning and decision making process may be to issue a letter before proceedings. This should be discussed with AGs.

A pre proceedings plan should be formulated with the family as soon as is feasibly possible after the letter before proceedings is delivered. It should be formulated with the relevant family members at a pre proceedings meeting.

The plan should consider all of the issues raised as concerns and should outline actions and timescales to address them.

5. Making an Application

Once it is agreed that an application should be made arrangements should be made quickly in conjunction with the AG’s appointed Advocate to make the application.

The Court application form (CAP1) which must be completed in all cases by the Attorney Generals Chambers legal services in consultation with the social work team. The social worker and team must carefully check the application and simultaneously provide the evidence to file with it. This must be done within timescales agreed during the legal planning process and must not in any circumstances be allowed to delay the application.

6. Children's Involvement

Children should be as fully involved in their own cases as their needs dictate. Through their advocate and their guardian, children must be kept informed of what is happening in their case and fully consulted, subject to their developmental age and understanding. In deciding with the child the appropriate level of involvement in their own case, the guardian, advocate and the court must take the child’s best interests into account.

7. Documentation

The following is a list of documents which underpin PLO:

Ref. Document Name
PLO1 Request, or Application for Legal Advice
PLO2 Record of Legal Planning Meeting
PLO3a Letter before proceedings template – CLA section 25
PLO3b Letter before proceedings template - not looked after
PLO4 Pre Proceedings Plan and Minutes
PLO5 Letter of Issue
PLO6 Application





Templates for court (SWET):

- Social work evidence (statement);

- Social work evidence (final statement);

- Care plan (to be confirmed).

PLO9 Pre Proceedings Practice (flow)
PLO10 Legal Planning Guidance
PLO11 Case Management in Courts Process
PLO12 Guidance for the use of court templates (SWE templates)
PLO13 Guidance for planning outcomes (IOM additional guidance)
PLO14 Legal Process Map (SGO)
PLO15 Legal Process Map (Adoption)
PLO17 Legal Process Map - Care proceedings checklist/ flow chart

The links to the guidance in Protocol are:

\\reiltys\iomgroot\DeptShare_DSC\Protocol Useful Links\PLO

\\reiltys\iomgroot\DeptShare_DSC\Protocol Useful Links\PLO Additional Documents