public children law

Family Law Solicitors Chester - Local Authority Involvement

Public Law Proceedings in Family Law Chester – Pre-Court Stage

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future,” said JFK, a sentiment deeply ingrained in our approach to family law in Chester, especially during the pre-court stages of public law proceedings.

Understanding Parental Responsibility

In family law, Parental Responsibility is a key concept, defined in s 3(1) of the Children Act 1989 as encompassing all legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority a parent has regarding their child and the child’s property. Essentially, it grants the authority to make significant decisions about the child’s welfare.

Social Service Involvement

When concerns about a child’s safety arise, the Local Authority is obligated to investigate. This usually starts with a referral to Children Services. The Local Authority must act to protect any child they believe is at risk.

Following a referral, a decision on the response required is made within 24 hours. The Children Act 1989 mandates that the child’s wishes and feelings be considered. If immediate action isn’t necessary, a social worker will organize a multi-agency meeting to plan further steps.

Strategy Meeting

A strategy meeting involves Children Services, Police, Health, Education, and other relevant agencies. It’s convened when there’s suspicion of significant harm to a child. The meeting’s goal is to assess the risk and, if needed, develop a support plan.

Section 47 Enquiries

Post-multi-agency meeting, a Section 47 Enquiry may be initiated. This enquiry determines the necessary actions to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child suspected of suffering significant harm. The outcomes can range from no further action to providing family support.

If significant harm is identified, an Initial Child Protection Conference is convened.

Child Protection Conference/Plan

This conference, typically chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer, involves discussions about the child’s future safety, health, and development. It decides whether the child should be on the child protection register and formulates a Child Protection Plan for working with the family.

Participation in this conference is crucial, and you should have access to its minutes and the Child Protection Plan.


If Child Protection efforts don’t yield progress, the case may escalate to Pre-Proceedings. This stage is about working with the family to avoid court intervention and lasts about six months, including initial, review, and final meetings.

Engagement with social workers during this phase is vital to prevent the initiation of Care Proceedings.

Legal Support and Funding

At Berksons, we offer legal advice, support, and assistance regarding Social Service involvement, including Pre-Proceedings. You’re entitled to Legal Help if you have a Local Authority Letter. We’ll accompany you to meetings and provide representation and advice throughout.

Our team, specializing in Public Law in Chester, approaches each case with trust, empathy, and expertise.

Free Initial Consultation

For expert advice in family law in Chester, book a free initial consultation with us today. Our experienced solicitors are ready to support and guide you through these challenging processes with professionalism and care.