The pre-proceedings process
Produced in partnership with Joy Hopkinson of London Borough of Lambeth Council
The pre-proceedings process

The following Local Government practice note produced in partnership with Joy Hopkinson of London Borough of Lambeth Council provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The pre-proceedings process
  • Public law outline
  • Referral to Children Services
  • Assessments
  • Significant harm
  • Legal planning meetings
  • Management of case under pre-proceedings process
  • Letter before proceedings
  • Preparation for the pre-proceedings meeting
  • Pre-proceedings meeting
  • More...

Please note the information in this Practice Note relates to the current law in England. The law in Wales in this area is covered by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and the related statutory instruments.

Public law outline

The pre-proceedings process was introduced in 2008 as the part of the Public Law Outline (PLO) reforms to care proceedings. It has been revised by the Public Law Outline 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014, and there is now a 26-week time limit for the completion of care and supervision proceedings. See Practice Note: Public children—Public Law Outline 2014. This places an increased emphasis on pre-proceedings work.

In the View from the President’s Chambers: The Process of Reform: the revised PLO and the Local Authority’ [2013], The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, stated

'Work done by the local authority in the period pre-proceedings—front loading—is vital for two quite different reasons. Often it can divert a case along a route which avoids the need for proceedings. When that is not possible, and proceedings have to be commenced, work done beforehand will pay rich dividends later on. A case presented in proper shape on Day 1 will proceed much more quickly and smoothly than a case which reaches the court in an unsatisfactory state.'

For the pre-proceedings process to be effective, he recommended that:

  1. local

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