There are different levels of social services involvement. If you receive a letter telling you there will be a pre-proceedings meeting then this means that the Social Worker has enough concern to go to Court, but they want to try and work with the family to see whether any changes can be made to avoid going to Court. There will be meetings that you attend with your legal representative to discuss these concerns and work out a plan with the Social Worker moving forward.
What is a Letter before Proceedings?
A letter before proceedings is a formal letter from the legal department representing the children’s social services department you are involved with. The letter will set out the concerns they have and what steps you are being asked to undertake in order to avoid going to court. The letter will invite you to a pre-proceedings meeting with a solicitor to discuss this further.
What is a Pre-Proceedings Meeting?
You will receive a Letter before Proceedings confirming when the meeting is Pre-proceedings meeting takes place when the Local Authority have some concerns regarding you and your children however want to work with you before the court is involved. At this stage you are entitled to Legal Aid and someone is able to represent you at meetings, advice you on assessments and proposals made by the Local Authority. Pre-proceedings is different from court proceedings, as the court is not involved and they do not make decisions. You work with the Local Authority in order to mitigate their concerns to see if your matter can avoid going to court. If you receive a letter from the Local Authority to engage in pre proceedings, you will be entitled to legal aid.
Please see our free fact sheet on Pre-proceedings meetings that answers some commonly asked questions.