Scots child hearings set for overhaul

A NEW national structure of children's hearings is likely to be among a raft of changes in Scottish legislation facing solicitors in the autumn.

The national children's reporter service is to be run by the Scottish Office and aims to replace the reporter services (similar to children's court) currently provided by local government.

The service will come in as part of the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, which will completely restructure the regional and district authority system and replace it with 28 unitary authorities.

Law Society of Scotland deputy secretary Michael Clancey says: “The local government reform is important for solicitors because of the diverse functions the legal authorities fulfil. No solicitor in Scotland should be ignorant of these changes.”

The Bill is due for its third reading in the House of Lords in October.

Other areas facing major change for lawyers include the district court structure, the planning system and the licensing system. The Scottish law society is considering a consultation paper on the planning system.

A Children's Bill for Scotland may also start its parliamentary procedure this autumn, although a crowded agenda may require it to have special parliamentary time.