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.

Part 1: Introduction and how to respond to this consultation


1.01 The 1995 Act is centred on the needs of children and their families. It defines parental responsibilities and rights in relation to children. It sets out the duties and powers available to public authorities to support children and their families and to intervene when the child's welfare requires it.

1.02 This consultation seeks views on reforming part 1 of the 1995 Act which covers parental responsibilities and rights and on creating a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy.

1.03 It also seeks your views on other matters related to family law, such as aspects of the Children’s Hearings System. This consultation concentrates on family law as it impacts on children and young people. That is particularly relevant this year as it is the Year of Young People.

1.04 More generally on family law, the SLC has just announced its 10th programme of work. The programme includes a joint project with the Law Commission for England and Wales on surrogacy and an intention to carry out other family law projects [6] .

1.05 There are a number of areas which this consultation does not cover as they are not the responsibility of the Scottish Government. These areas include:

  • Judicial training. This is a matter for the Judicial Institute; [7]
  • Judicial continuity when a case is being dealt with by the courts [8] . The deployment of the judiciary is a matter for the Lord President and the Sheriffs Principal; and
  • The potential introduction of specialist sheriffs to hear family cases. Sections 34 to 37 of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 give relevant powers in this area to the Lord President and the Sheriffs Principal.

1.06 Rules of Court are a matter for the SCJC and the Court of Session. The SCJC’s functions include reviewing the practice and procedure followed in civil proceedings and preparing draft rules of procedure. The Scottish Government can and does submit policy papers to the SCJC and its Family Law Committee. It is open to anybody to provide feedback to the SCJC on Rules of Court and to suggest changes to them. Details of how to do this are available on the SCJC’s website [9] .

Why we are consulting

1.07 The Programme for Government 2017-2018 set out the Scottish Government's commitment to consult on reforms to the 1995 Act and also to create a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy.

1.08 Consultation is an essential part of the policy-making process. We will consider the views expressed in response to this consultation along with other available evidence to help inform the Scottish Government’s decisions.

Responding to this consultation

1.09 We are inviting responses to this consultation by 7 August 2018.

1.10 We will be running engagement events with children and young people after the consultation has closed. This is due to the school summer holidays. Any views expressed during these events will be taken into account during the analysis of consultation responses.

Replying on-line using Citizen Space

1.11 Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government’s consultation platform, Citizen Space. You can view and respond to this consultation online at: You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that you submit your consultation response before midnight on 7 August 2018.

Replying by post

1.12 If you are unable to respond online using Citizen Space, please submit your response by post. You must complete and return the Respondent Information Form at Annex A (see “Handling your Response” below) with your response. You can answer the Consultation Questions using Annex B. Please send your response and the completed Respondent Information Form to:

Family Law Review
Room GW-15
St. Andrew’s House
Regent Road

Not accepting responses by email

1.13 We will not accept responses submitted by email.

Handling your response

1.14 Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to be published.

1.15 If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

1.16 If the response comes from an organisation, we will indicate that the organisation has responded to the consultation.

1.17 Annex C contains information on how we will handle your personal data.

1.18 The Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

Next steps in the process

1.19 Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, or offensive material, we will make responses available to the public at If you use Citizen Space to respond, you will receive a copy of your response by email.

1.20 Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so.

1.21 After the consultation, the Scottish Government intends to publish a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy outlining existing work to improve how family cases are dealt with and further work planned.

Comments and complaints

1.22 If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them by email to or by hard copy to the address at paragraph 1.12 above.

Scottish Government consultation process

1.23 Consultation is an essential part of the policy making process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work. You can find Scottish Government consultations online: Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views.

1.24 Consultations may involve seeking views in a number of different ways, such as public meetings, focus groups, or other online methods such as Dialogue (

1.25 Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We will publish a report of this analysis for every consultation. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise, the responses received may:

  • Indicate the need for policy development or review;
  • Inform the development of a particular policy;
  • Help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals; or
  • Be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented.

1.26 While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.


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