4 Instructing a solicitor
Children under sixteen, who have a general understanding of what it means to do so, may instruct a solicitor in connection with any civil matter and can apply for Legal Aid in their own right. They are able to do this under the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 as amended by the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. A person of twelve years or more is presumed to be of sufficient age and maturity to have such understanding but even below that age some children may be sufficiently mature.
One of the key responsibilities and rights a parent has in relation to their child is to act as the child's legal representative until the child is sixteen. This might occur in a situation where a child, for whatever reason, is unable to instruct a solicitor: the parent could secure legal advice or assistance on behalf of the child from a solicitor if it is in the child's best interests.
The situation in relation to Legal Aid and legal assistance within the hearing is discussed in greater depth in Section 12 of the Legislation and Procedure Handbook.