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Entries in bar reports (8)


Guide to Child Welfare Reports

The Scottish Government has published a guide for parents who are litigants in court cases in which a child welfare report is ordered (formerly called a bar report).

This is one of the changes arising from the working group that considered changes to the reporting system. The changes in court rules concerning these reports are noted in our article published when the changes were enacted in October 2015.

FNF Scotland welcomes the publication of this guide, and hopes that it will be brought to the attention of all parents when a child welfare report is ordered. Understanding how and why the report is prepared is an important part of the process. 

We have published a more detailed guide to child welfare reports, which stresses, amongst other things,  that you should focus on what will benefit your child when talking to the reporter, rather than complaining about the other parent.


New guide to Child Welfare Reports

FNF Scotland has just published a new guide to Child Welfare Reports.  This coincides with new court rules which introduce a range of changes to what were previously called Bar Reports.  The same lawyers (and some social workers) will undertake Child Welfare Reports in child contact cases, but there have been significant changes in procedures.

Sheriff and judges now have to specify within their interlocutors what they want the new Child Welfare Reporter to do. Reports have to be submitted no less than three working days before the court hearing at which they are to be considered. Printed guidance will be provided to reporters and to the parents who are subject to reports to explain their respective roles.  

Crucially, a new mandatory training programme will be developed covering specific topics which Child Welfare Reporters must be aware of.  The lawyers who carry out Child Welfare Reports will now have the chance to attend training which will cover a range of issues including parental alienation.

FNF Scotland welcomes these changes, although we are keen to hear from parents who may still have concerns with Child Welfare Reports in coming years and we will continue to suggest further changes to the way in which child contact disputes are resolved. 


Bar Report legal aid funding capped

The Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) has announced new restrictions on legal aid support for Bar Reports in child welfare hearings. 

The cost payable to a lawyer appointed to carry out these reports will be limited to £3000 (excluding  VAT and outlays) for Reports ordered after February 18th 2013.

This move follows a study conducted by SLAB which showed a wide variation in the cost of reports, with average costs ranging from less than £1000 to over £5,000 in different Sheriff Courts across Scotland. 

These limits will not apply to reports funded by individual parties in court cases, but it does give a strong message on how much it should cost to carry out a Bar Report.


Bar Reports: changes in sight

Families Need Fathers Scotland has been invited to take part in a Scottish Government working group considering reform of the system of bar reports in child welfare hearings.

The group will meet over the next few months to consider the role of bar reporters, what training they require, how their work is monitored and how parties involved in a case can challenge the contents of a report.

This follows concerns raised about certain aspects of bar reporting in Scottish Government research and a recent report by Families Need Fathers Scotland.  It will also consider the role of curators and safeguarders, following comments in a recent Supreme Court decision about the lack of clarity on the role of a curator (paras 35-37).

A bar report can be a valuable independent contribution to the Child Welfare Hearing, but our report suggested that common standards and increased transparency would improve the system

The working group, which also includes representatives of various legal bodies, the Association of Directors of Social Work, the Children and Young People's Commissioner and Scottish Women's Aid, will give recommendations to Scottish Government and the Courts Service.


Users' guide to Bar Reports

The first user's guide to Bar Reports has been published by Families Need Fathers Scotland as part of a campaign to introduce national standards and oversight of bar reporting (see Press Release).

In Scots law where an application for contact or residence cannot be agreed between former partners (or others applying for contact such as grandparents or wider family members) a Sheriff or Court of Session judge may order a 'Bar Report' to help him or her get a better sense of how to identify the best arrangements for the welfare of the child.

The Bar Report provides further information about the circumstances of a child and the proposed contact or residence arrangements that have been requested. Experience shows that the recommendations at the end of a Bar Report are relied on heavily by the Sheriff in reaching a decision.

FNF Scotland is not seeking to alter the way Bar Reports are carried out to favour fathers though non-resident parents, mostly fathers, do feel they are at a disadvantage in the process.

The purpose of the guide is to make the process more transparent and accessible to those involved in child contact actions. It is not a guide to coach parents through how to get a favourable Bar Report but, being better informed, it may help them represent their interests and the realities of the relationship with their children more effectively.