Edinburgh 0131 200 1200
Aberdeen 01224 49 80 80

News + Events

Latest news from Balfour+Manson

The Children and Young People Bill: An update

On 27 March 2014 the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent and immediately came in for criticism from certain individuals and organisations across Scotland.  This criticism focused on the fact the Bill proposed introducing a “guardian” for each and every child in Scotland from birth until they attain the age of 18 (with the exception of children who are over the age of 16 and have joined the military). 
It was the Scottish Government’s intention that the role of guardians would be taken up by headteachers, health visitors and midwives, with the child or her/his parents being able to contact the assigned guardian in the event any issues arose with the services available to the child.  It was also the Scottish Government’s intention that these guardians would investigate any concerns that they might have about the welfare of the child whom they have been assigned and discuss any concerns they may have with the relevant social work department. 
On 28 March 2014 my colleague Jamie Foulis published an article in which he noted that numerous individuals and organisations had objected to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill mainly in relation to the expectation that would be placed upon guardians to investigate any concerns about the welfare of the child, specifically because this part of the guardian’s remit was perceived by some as being an example of the state interfering with the right all parents have to raise their own children.  As at the date of writing, Jamie noted that some of the loudest criticism had come from the Christian Institute and, by way of an update, this organisation has now launched a legal challenge against the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, instructing Aidan O’Neill QC to represent them in a judicial review of the legislation. 
Mr O’Neill QC argues that the Scottish Government may have acted outwith its powers and breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights due to the terms of the legislation possibly resulting in an interference with the right families have as a result of that Article to respect for private and family life. It is also argued that the remit given to the guardians amounts to disproportionate state interference, with the concerns of the Christian Institute having previously been echoed by the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates. 
Jamie had noted in his article that the abovementioned grounds of argument were potential bases of challenge to the legislation, and in view of the Christian Institute initiating legal proceedings it would seem as though these challenges have now come to pass. This will undoubtedly be a dispute that will be of great interest to everyone across Scotland.