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1.7.3 Legal Planning Meetings

RELATED CHAPTER

Protocol and Good Practice Model: Disclosure of Information in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse and Linked Criminal and Care Direction Hearings (October 2013)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in November 2017 to reflect the refreshed internal procedures for Legal Planning Meetings in Bedford Borough Children’s Services.


Contents

  1. Purpose of Legal Planning Meetings
  2. Who can Convene Legal Planning Meetings
  3. Timing and Duration of Legal Planning Meetings
  4. Agenda for LPM1s
  5. Agenda for LPM2s
  6. Recording of Legal Planning Meetings
  7. Review/Subsequent Legal Planning Meetings

    Appendix 1: LPM1 Flowchart

    Appendix 2: LPM2 Process


1. Purpose of Legal Planning Meetings

When it is clear that the protection or welfare of a child cannot be achieved by agreement with the parents or the security of a legal order is necessary to ensure the viability of a plan for a child or the existing court order is not providing adequate protection for the child or is no longer required, a Legal Planning Meeting should be convened.

A Legal Planning Meeting may also be convened in circumstances where it is thought that a legal order may be required in order to assist in the permanence planning for children, whether that is a return to the family or to achieve permanence elsewhere.

A Legal Planning Meeting should be convened following an application for an Emergency Protection Order when consideration is being given to an application for a Interim Care Order.

Legal Planning Meetings are an essential part of the process for dealing with public law children's cases under the Public Law Outline. Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division in ‘The Process of Reform: the revised PLO and the Local Authority’, states that a properly organised legal planning meeting is invaluable and can be the key to achieving timely outcomes to Care Proceedings. He also recommends that local authority lawyers be involved, advising and assisting their social work clients, at an early stage.

A Legal Planning Meeting will be chaired by a Head of Service, and involve a legal adviser to the local authority on childcare matters.

It is an opportunity to discuss a case fully, and to consult with colleagues to ensure that children are the subject of active case management and that appropriate legal action is taken when required to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child.

The role of the local authority legal adviser is to advise about the legal possibilities for achieving the desired aim and to give a view about the quality of the evidence available.

In order to enable a full discussion to take place, the following must be available:

  • Relevant assessment/s;
  • An up to date Chronology;
  • A Plan or a clear indication that options for a plan have been considered;
  • A Genogram.

The issues to be considered at the meeting will include the following:

  • The reasons for the concerns and the evidential basis for establishing Significant Harm and the Threshold Criteria;
  • Why Care Proceedings are necessary - what is their aim, objective and purpose?
  • The steps already taken to clarify the issues of concern - i.e. Single Assessment, as well as other medical and other expert involvement;
  • Whether the requirements of the Pre-Proceedings Checklist set out in the Public Law Outline have been met, including a written notification to the parents about the areas of concern and their right to seek legal advice. See Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure;
  • When will the Single Assessment and other supporting documentation be available, if not already?

    Note that with pre-birth situations a recent High Court judgement has set out good practice steps to include:
  • The action/decisions already taken and where the decisions were made e.g. Strategy Discussion/Meeting, Child Protection Conference, Core Group meeting;
  • The proposed Care Plan for the child, including the proposed placement and any cultural, language and ethnic issues, the need for a Parallel Plan, consultation with parents and the wider family, whether any family members are available to care for the child on an interim or permanent basis, if so whether the required checks have been made, the proposals for contact;
  • How the proposed Care Plan is to be achieved, including where appropriate arranging a date for the case to be presented to the Adoption Panel;
  • Whether it may be appropriate to instruct any further expert assessment before the commencement of court proceedings - if so, what are the proposed remit of the instructions and the areas to be addressed, who should the assessment be done by and what are the likely timescales?
  • Have there been previous Court proceedings in relation to the family? If so, what steps are required to obtain the papers in relation to the case from the Court? or another local authority?
  • When will the social worker's Statement of Evidence be ready?

If Care Proceedings are recommended, the Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline should be followed.

Note: where children are already Section 20 Accommodated there should be no delay in issuing proceedings where this is required, (see Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure, Section 20 Accommodation).


2. Who can Convene Legal Planning Meetings

Prior to convening an LPM, the social worker and Team Manager should hold a case discussion. In all relevant cases, the Jones model should be used to facilitate that discussion. The Team Manager should then discuss the request for an LPM with the line managing Head of Service. If the Head of Service is in agreement then an LPM should be requested.

  1. Social Worker to request an LPM1 via the Principal Solicitor, with the LPM request form and accompanying documents;
  2. The Jones model assessment must be included in paperwork with LPM request;
  3. Legal to notify coordinator and social worker of allocated lawyer within 5 days, unless urgent in which case the matter will be allocated urgently;
  4. Coordinator to book a room and notify all participants of location and time of meeting;
  5. For LPM2s, following CMH and on receipt of the Order, LPM coordinator to book a date for LPM2 to take place, after expert evidence filing date and prior to date when LA final evidence to be filed, and within 3 days of expert evidence being received. Where possible, the same Chair should be used for both the LPM1 and the LPM2;
  6. For LPM2s lawyer to provide expert reports upon receipt, to the coordinator and the social worker at a minimum of 3 days prior to LPM2. The coordinator to circulate all this information to all invitees to the LPM2, 3 days prior to the LPM2 taking place;
  7. For LPM2s, social workers to notify who should be invited to LPM2 using list below as a guide;
  8. Lawyer to record LPM1 advice on Part B of LPM form;
  9. Chair to copy actions agreed and timescales from this form at the end of the meeting;
  10. Coordinator to add these actions to the tracker and into case notes on Azeus;
  11. Social worker to incorporate actions into the main plan;
  12. Lawyer to email the advice from the LPM to the Chair, the social worker, the Principal Solicitor and all attendees, within 5 days of the LPM;
  13. On receipt of the LPM advice, the social worker to ensure that advice is uploaded onto the child’s record within 2 days of receipt;
  14. The same chair should be used on each case for LPM1 and 2 where possible;
  15. Heads of Service to chair LPMs for their own service where possible.

LPM1 – invitees:
Chair
Social Worker
Team Manager
Lawyer
Adoption Team Manager – if plan is likely to lead to adoption at an early stage.

LPM2 – invitees:
Chair
Social Worker
Team Manager
Lawyer
IRO
Adoption (where plan is likely for adoption)
Permanency team manager
Fostering team manager (where involved).


3. Timing and Duration of Legal Planning Meetings

The timing of a Legal Planning Meeting is likely to be determined by the urgency of court proceedings and the need to allow sufficient time for necessary preparation.


4. Agenda for LPM1s

1. Apologies
2. Confirm basic information
3. Summary of local authority concerns
4. Threshold
5. Option appraisal (i.e. collate more evidence/enter into pre-proceedings/urgency/seek EPO/ICO)
6. Legal Advice
7. Arrangements for Family Group Conference
8. Plan
  8.1 Collect more evidence and reconvene
  8.2 Pre-proceedings, letter of instruction, date of gateway meeting
  8.3 Issue proceedings, Care Plan, placement, family placement considerations, contact, CAFCASS Plus
  8.4 In all cases, consider additional evidence needed
9. Parallel planning
10. Documents required and by when
11. Any other recommendations for actions and by when


5. Agenda for LPM2s

1. Apologies
2. Confirm basic information
3. Summary of local authority concerns
4. Summary of expert reports and viability assessments
5. Threshold
6. RE: BS considerations (family considerations)
7. Final Care Plan, permanency plan, contact, support
8. Views of IRO
9. Views of Child’s Guardian
10. Legal Advice
11. Key Dates (IRH, ADM, Final Hearing)
12. Any other recommendations for actions and by when


6. Recording of Legal Planning Meetings

The social worker must complete Part A of the Legal Planning Meeting[1] Request form fully and forward this to the Team Manager, Adults, Children and Education (ACE) Legal Team. Following the Legal Planning Meeting, the lawyer will complete Part B of the Legal Planning Meeting form with the advice and recommendations made at the Legal Planning Meeting and will email this form to the Chair, the Social Worker, all attendees and to the Principal Solicitor within 5 days of the LPM. The Chair will ask the co-ordinator to add the decisions and actions onto the spreadsheet and into case notes on Azeus immediately following the meeting. The social worker should incorporate the actions into the main plan.

For LPM2’s, the lawyer will complete Part 1 of the LPM2 form prior to the LPM2 meeting and Part 2 will be completed during the meeting. As with LPM1s, the advice and recommendations made at the Legal Planning Meeting will be emailed to the Chair, the Social Worker and all attendees within 5 days of the LPM. The Chair will ask the co-ordinator to add the decisions and actions onto the spreadsheet and into case notes on Azeus immediately following the meeting. The social worker should incorporate the actions into the main plan.

These notes are legally privileged and should not be made available to parents or other parties in any potential proceedings without the permission of the chairperson or Director.


7. Review/Subsequent Legal Planning Meetings

The social worker must complete Part A of the Legal Planning Meeting[1] Request form fully and forward this to the Team Manager, Adults, Children and Education (ACE) Legal Team. Following the Legal Planning Meeting, the lawyer will complete Part B of the Legal Planning Meeting form with the advice and recommendations made at the Legal Planning Meeting and will email this form to the Chair, the Social Worker, all attendees and to the Principal Solicitor within 5 days of the LPM. The Chair will ask the co-ordinator to add the decisions and actions onto the spreadsheet and into case notes on Azeus immediately following the meeting. The social worker should incorporate the actions into the main plan.

For LPM2’s, the lawyer will complete Part 1 of the LPM2 form prior to the LPM2 meeting and Part 2 will be completed during the meeting. As with LPM1s, the advice and recommendations made at the Legal Planning Meeting will be emailed to the Chair, the Social Worker and all attendees within 5 days of the LPM. The Chair will ask the co-ordinator to add the decisions and actions onto the spreadsheet and into case notes on Azeus immediately following the meeting. The social worker should incorporate the actions into the main plan.

These notes are legally privileged and should not be made available to parents or other parties in any potential proceedings without the permission of the chairperson or Director.


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix 1: LPM1 Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 2: LPM2 Process

End