Pre-proceedings in relation to children are often referred to as Public Law Outline or PLO for short.
What is the Purpose of Pre-Proceedings in Relation to Children?
If a local authority has concerns about the care being afforded to a child or about the risks that may be present in relation to a child, but these concerns are not yet so serious as to warrant court intervention, it will invite both parents to attend a PLO meeting and to instruct a solicitor.
PLO meetings have two main purposes. The first is to seek to avoid the need for court proceedings in the first place and the second is to keep delay to an absolute minimum if court proceedings do later become necessary.
What Happens at a PLO Meeting?
During a PLO meeting, it is normally all parents, the social worker, the social worker’s manager, a minute-taker, the local authority’s solicitor and the solicitors for the parents that are present.
At the meeting, the social worker and his or her manager will talk about the concerns that they have in relation to the children. The meeting should be a very cooperative discussion that addresses how these concerns will be dealt with so as to avoid the need for the matter going to court.
The local authority will draft a written document known as a written or working agreement and each parent will have their own to sign. In this document there will also be agreements made by the local authority, such as deadlines for them to complete parenting assessments or speak to family members that you have put forward as potential carers.
Why It Is Advisable to Instruct a Solicitor During PLO
We will sit in PLO meetings with clients and become involved in the discussions that take place. We will carefully examine the written agreement that is proposed by the local authority and make amendments to it as we deem necessary. From our experience, the proposed agreements are not always entirely reasonable or clear and more often than not will require changes.
If the PLO does then proceed into court proceedings at a later date, you will have a solicitor that knows all of the background and will be best-equipped to represent you effectively at court.
If you have been given a letter before issue by the local authority, please contact one of our solicitors or legal executives for free advice.