8. Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring
8.1 The Bill does not change the current way a party can complain about the conduct of the sheriff or the outcome of a case. If a party wishes to complain about the conduct of a sheriff then this is handed by the Judicial Office for Scotland7. The usual way of complaining about the outcome of a case is to appeal the decision.
8.2 The Bill gives the Scottish Ministers the power to remove a Child Welfare Reporter or curator from the register if they fail to meet the required standards.
8.3 In addition, a Child Welfare Reporter or curator will be subject to a regular reappointment process. If a person fails to meet the required criteria at the reappointment then their appointment may not be continued. The Bill also gives the Scottish Ministers the power to set by secondary legislation the procedure if a Child Welfare Reporter or curator is unhappy with a decision by Scottish Ministers to remove them from either register.
8.4 The Bill sets up a register of solicitors who may be appointed by the court if an individual is prohibited from conducting the remainder of their case themselves. The Bill provides that the solicitor may not be dismissed by the party for whom they have been appointed to act. This reduces the risk of parties who may not wish to be legally represented dismissing their solicitor without reason.
8.5 The Bill gives the Scottish Ministers the power to set the eligibility criteria for lawyers to be on the register. If a lawyer fails to meet the standards then they could be removed from the register. This would mean that they could no longer be appointed by the court to undertake this work.
8.6 The Bill regulates the provision of contact services in child contact centres. Part of the regulation is appointing a body to oversee that contact centres meet the required standards. One of the roles of the body would be to inspect centres to ensure they are meeting the required standards. If a contact centre fails to meet the required standards they would be required to improve their facilities and would be subject to a more frequent inspections. Ultimately, the inspecting body will have
the power to remove the contact service provider from the list of registered contact service providers. This would mean that they would not be able to undertake court ordered contact sessions in their contact centres.
8.7 In addition, the regulation of contact centres introduces an independent complaints mechanism. If an individual is unhappy about the service they have received at a contact centre then initially this is to be raised internally with the contact centre. If an individual is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation then this could be escalated to the body appointed to inspect contact centres.
8.8 In the event that a local authority makes a decision not to promote sibling contact where this was practicable and appropriate, a judicial review could be sought of their decision.
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