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The Children's Panel - life changing

Response to the Supreme Court Decision on the role of siblings in children’s hearings 18 June 2020

Children’s Hearing Scotland (CHS) welcomes today’s Supreme Court judgement on the involvement siblings of children in care in the children’s hearing system.

The Court found that the current law on sibling participation in children’s hearings does not infringe their human rights. It acknowledged there are already several measures in place to enable the participation of brothers and sisters in hearings about their siblings, without them needing the legal status of ‘relevant persons’.

These include clear guidance for Panel Members about the importance of maintaining and protecting sibling relationships in the CHS Practice and Procedure Manual, while Reporters have the power to invite siblings to a hearing if they think it is in the best interests of the child. However, we believe there is still more we can do.

Children’s Hearing Scotland National Convener, Elliot Jackson, says: “While this decision provides clarity on the law as it stands, the judgement is not the end of the conversation.

“The Court has recognised the measures already in place to support siblings, but we know we can do more, working with partners to ensure children’s hearings take a strongly inclusive approach to sibling relationships.

“Our team has worked hard to increase our focus on this over the last couple of years, with additional training and guidance for Panel Members, and we will build on this work, following recommendations from the Independent Care Review to promote all the relationships which are important for children in care, especially siblings.”

CHS is a member of Stand Up For Siblings, a Scotland-wide partnership working to protect the rights and promote the wellbeing of siblings through improvements to law, policy and practice.

Read more and watch the full Supreme Court judgement summary here.