Part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995: review

This consultation seeks views on reforming Part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 to ensure the child's best interests are at the centre of any decision made about them.

Glossary of Terms used in this consultation.

Note: On-line access to legislation is available at [1]

“1965 Act” – The Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965

“1986 Act” – The Family Law Act 1986

“1995 Act” – The Children (Scotland) Act 1995

“2006 Act” – The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006

“2008 Act” – The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008

“2011 Act” – The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011

“2011 Act Proceedings” – The court proceedings that arise from Children’s Hearings, mainly relating to proof of grounds of referral or appeals against Children’s Hearings.

“Brussels IIA” – Regulation 2201/2003 [2] establishes rules on jurisdiction in matrimonial proceedings and provides for mutual recognition and enforcement of judgements from such proceedings. It also covers jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of orders relating to parental responsibility (including residence and contact) and provides rules on the return of children abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, other Member States.

CAFCASS” – The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in England and Wales. CAFCASS’ duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children through the family justice system.

“Child” – defined in section 1(2) of the 1995 Act as a person under the age of 16 years for the purposes of Parental Responsibilities and Rights apart from in relation to parents providing guidance where a child covers a person under the age of 18 years.

“Child Welfare Hearing” – When contact disputes reach court they are usually heard in Child Welfare Hearings. Child Welfare Hearings are usually held in private with both parties being present. They are intended to allow the judge to speak to the parties direct, identify the issues and establish how the issues are to be dealt with. Child Welfare Hearings are generally informal procedures.

“Child Welfare Reporter” – formerly called “bar reporters”. They are court appointed people who prepare reports on the best interests of the child.

“Children’s Hearing” – This is a legal meeting (often just called a Hearing or a Panel), that children and young people are sometimes asked to go to with their families or carers if there are concerns about the child or young person.

“Children’s Hearings System” – The Children’s Hearings System deals with children and young people in Scotland under the age of eighteen who are in need of help. The two main reasons why the Children’s Hearings System will help a child or young person are because they are in need of care and protection or because they have got into trouble with the police.

“Children’s Reporter” (sometimes just called a Reporter) – This is the person who decides whether or not a child or young person who has been referred to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration should attend a Hearing.

“Curator ad litem” – An officer of the court who is appointed to represent and protect the interests of a person lacking full capacity, including a child.

ECHR” – European Convention on Human Rights [3] . An international treaty which protects human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. The Scottish Ministers are required to act compatibly with the terms of the ECHR.

“Family law” – covers a wide range of areas including divorce and dissolution, parental responsibilities and rights, contact and permanence and adoption cases.

FLC” – The Family Law Committee of the Scottish Civil Justice Council. Its role is to keep the relevant civil court rules under review, consider and make proposals for modification and reform, require that family actions and proceedings are dealt with as efficiently as possible, review, develop and promote a case management structure for family actions and to report to the Scottish Civil Justice Council with its recommendations and, where applicable, draft rules of court.

“Grounds of referral” – This is the name given to the statement of facts that set out the reasons for a child being referred to a Children’s Hearing under the 2011 Act.

“Hague Convention” – The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction [4] provides a worldwide mechanism for the return of children abducted to, or wrongfully retained in participating countries.

“Legal Aid” – Publicly funded legal assistance allowing people to pursue or defend their rights, or pay for their defence, when they could not otherwise afford to do so. When someone applies for legal aid, their application is subject to statutory tests which cover the merits of the case and the means available to the applicant.

“Lord President” – the most senior judge in Scotland and the head of the court judiciary.

“National Convener” – The National Convener is an official of Children’s Hearings Scotland ( CHS) whose main functions, supported by CHS, are to recruit, monitor and train the 2,900 volunteer national Children’s Panel members across Scotland who conduct and support Children’s Hearings.

NRS” – National Records of Scotland is responsible for collecting, preserving and producing information about Scotland’s people and history. For example, it carries out functions in relation to birth registration and publishes statistics on birth registration.

“party litigant” – person who represents themselves in court.

“Principal Reporter” – The Principal Reporter is an independent official within the Children’s Hearings System with powers to delegate functions to other officers in particular Children’s Reporters.

“primary legislation” – Acts of Parliament.

“proof” - Final stage of court proceedings at which a sheriff determines a case after hearing evidence.

PRRs” – Parental Responsibilities and Rights as defined in section 1 of the 1995 Act.

“Relevant Person” – Someone who has the right to attend a Children’s Hearing and get information about it. A Relevant Person can be the child or young person’s parent, grandparent, carer, guardian or the person who looks after them, but they must be deemed to be relevant by a Children’s Hearing if they are not the child or young person’s biological or adoptive mother or father. A pre hearing panel can decide that someone should be treated as a Relevant Person because they have or recently have had, significant involvement in a child or young person’s upbringing. This is called“deeming” someone to be a Relevant Person. Someone with deemed Relevant Person status can have this reviewed at a later date if they no longer have significant involvement with the child or young person.

“Safeguarder” - An independent person appointed by a Children’s Hearing in relation to a child to prepare a report to assist the hearing to make a decision on what is in the welfare of the child.

SCJC” – The Scottish Civil Justice Council prepares draft rules of procedure for the civil courts in Scotland and advises the Lord President on the development of the civil justice system in Scotland.

SCRA” – The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration is a national body focused on children and young people most at risk. Its main responsibilities are to facilitate the work of Children’s Reporters, to deploy and manage staff to carry out that work and to provide suitable accommodation for Children’s Hearings.

SCTS” – Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is an independent body providing administrative support to Scottish courts and tribunals and to the judiciary.

“Secondary legislation” – Forms of law that are not primary legislation. This includes statutory instruments.

“Section 11 Order” – An order made by either Court of Session or the sheriff court under section 11 of the 1995 Act in relation to parental responsibilities and rights, guardianship, the administration of a child’s property, who a child lives with or who a child should maintain personal relations and direct contact with.

“Sheriff” – A judge in the Sheriff Court. Sheriffs deal with the majority of civil and criminal court cases in Scotland. Sheriffs hear almost all family cases including divorce, child welfare, adoptions and Children’s Hearing’s cases.

“Sheriff Principal” – The Sheriffs Principal head each of Scotland’s six Sheriffdoms. They have responsibility for ensuring the efficient disposal of court business.

SLAB” – Scottish Legal Aid Board. Manages the legal aid system in Scotland.

SLC” – The Scottish Law Commission makes recommendations to both UK and Scottish Government to simplify, modernise and improve Scots law.

UNCRC” – The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child [5] . An international treaty which covers all aspects of a child’s life and sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children are entitled to and how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy their rights. The Scottish Ministers have duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 to keep under consideration whether there are any steps which they could take to give better or further effect to the UNCRC requirements.


Back to top