News & Events

Inner House success for AM duo in relevant person case

Iain Mitchell QC and Ceit-Anna MacLeod succeed in Inner House appeal against the Children’s Reporter


Mr Mitchell QC and Ms MacLeod were instructed on behalf of the parents of two children accommodated with foster carers. The appeal related to the foster carers having been deemed “relevant persons” by a pre-hearing panel in terms of section 81(3) of the Children’s Hearings  (Scotland) Act 2011. An appeal to the sheriff had found the decision of the pre-hearing panel to be justified.


On appeal by stated case to the Inner House, the parents’ appeal succeeded. The case has now been remitted to the sheriff with a direction from the Inner House to allow the appeals and to refuse to confirm the decisions of the pre-hearing panel as justified.


Importantly, the Inner House clarified that while the overall exercise upon which a children’s hearing is embarked is concerned with the welfare of the child, the particular decision which a pre-hearing panel requires to reach under section 81(3) of the 2011 Act is not related to the welfare of the child as such. The court went on to clarify that the decision is “concerned with standing in the proceedings, and whether the individual concerned should be made a party to the proceedings with the obligations and rights which flow from the conferral of that locus standi. It depends upon whether the state of present and recent past facts can justify the conclusion that the individual concerned has had “a significant involvement in the upbringing of the child”.”


The opinion of the Inner House dated 12 December 2014 and delivered by Lord Eassie can be read here.