What to do when you receive a letter before proceedings?
A letter before proceedings is usually sent to a parent or guardian when Social Services are so concerned about a child or children and how they are being looked after that they are thinking about going to Court. A meeting then takes place to discuss the concerns and any action which needs to be taken with the parent or guardian to try and avoid the matter going to Court. This meeting is called PLO Meeting.
If you receive a letter before proceedings, it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. You are entitled to have a solicitor accompany you at the meeting and you do not have to pay for this if you are a parent of a child or someone with parental responsibility for a child.
At the meeting there will usually be the social worker and their team manager present and there may also be a Local Authority solicitor. The Social Worker or their team manager will explain what has been happening and why they have become so concerned that they are looking at taking the matter to Court. They will set out what help has been offered to the family and what further help can be offered. The child’s parent or guardian is then given various things they need to do to turn things around and try and avoid the matter going to Court. A solicitor is there to help you with this and come to an agreement with the local authority. The local authority will then arrange a review meeting to see what progress has been made.
It is the final opportunity for the parents or guardians to show that they can make the necessary changes to stop the Local Authority needing to go to Court.
However, if the risk to a child is so high, the Local Authority may decide at the meeting that they have to make an application to Court. If the risk to a child also increases prior to the next review meeting, the Local Authority could make an urgent application to Court without having to wait until a review meeting.
It is really important that you if you receive a Letter Before Proceedings you seek legal advice before the meeting so that a solicitor can advise you and attend the meeting with you.
Our highly experienced Children Legal Team, work closely with many local authorities in the East Midlands such as Nottingham County Council, Derby County Council and Derbyshire Country Council. We can guide you through each step of the way to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.
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