Under the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011, the following people are automatically considered to be a Relevant Person:
- Any parent (whether or not they have parental rights or responsibilities)
- Any other person who has parental rights and responsibilities (obtained through the courts)
This means that other people, for example foster carers, relatives and kinship carers, are not automatically considered to be Relevant Persons.
Being deemed a Relevant Person
Individuals not automatically deemed to be Relevant Persons can be deemed to be a Relevant Person. This is a decision that must be made by a Pre-Hearing Panel or a Children’s Hearing. The Reporter has no power to make someone a Relevant Person.
The test for being deemed a Relevant Person is that the individual has, or recently has had, significant involvement in the upbringing of the child. Information to enable the Panel Members to make this judgement can be provided in person at the Pre-Hearing Panel or in writing (via the Reporter). There is no requirement to attend the Pre-Hearing Panel in person but it is important to attend if you would like to participate in the discussion and contribute your views to the decision-making process.
Right of Appeal
There is a right of appeal against the decision to deem someone a Relevant Person. The child/young person, any relevant person and the individual concerned can appeal against the decision to make or not to make the individual a Relevant Person. In such an appeal, the Sheriff would consider if the person met the test or not.
Once the Panel Members have decided that an individual is a Relevant Person, they retain that status for future Hearings, though it can be reviewed if the person no longer has, or recently has had, significant involvement in the upbringing of the child.
Can I attend a Hearing if I’m not a Relevant Person?
Some family members or foster carers may only be looking after a child or young person for a short period or on a temporary basis. They may not want to be considered to be a Relevant Person or they may not meet the test of significant involvement. However, they may still be able to attend the Hearing if a child or young person, or a Relevant Person want them to attend the Hearing to support them as a representative. The Panel Members have discretion to allow them to attend.