PLO – Social Services

What is the Public Law Outline (PLO)?

The Public Law Outline (PLO) is a framework used in the family court in England and Wales to manage cases involving children. It was introduced in 2008 as part of the Children and Adoption Act 2006.

What is a PLO meeting?

The PLO sets out a series of steps that the court and parties involved in a case must take to ensure that the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration. The aim of the PLO is to encourage early intervention and to avoid lengthy court proceedings wherever possible.

The PLO is intended to ensure that cases involving children are dealt with in a timely and effective manner, with the child’s welfare as the primary concern throughout the process.

What happens in a PLO Meeting?

The key features of the PLO include:

  1. Pre-proceedings stage: Before issuing court proceedings, local authorities are required to undertake a detailed assessment of the child’s needs and try to work with the family to address any issues. This is known as the pre-proceedings stage and should last no longer than 12 weeks.
  2. Case management: Once court proceedings have been issued, the court will set out a timetable for the case, including deadlines for evidence to be submitted and for any assessments to take place.
  3. Dispute resolution: The court will encourage parties to resolve any issues between themselves, and will offer mediation or other forms of dispute resolution to help them do so.
  4. Case review: The case will be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that progress is being made and to consider whether any changes need to be made to the timetable or the plan for the child.
  5. Final hearing: If the case cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation, a final hearing will take place where the court will make a decision based on the evidence presented.
Should I attend the PLO meeting?

If you are invited to attend a Public Law Outline (PLO) meeting, it is generally recommended that you attend, as it provides an opportunity for you to have a say in the plans that are being made for your child.

By attending the meeting, you will be able to hear about the concerns that have been raised, ask questions, and share your perspective on the situation. You will also be able to contribute to the development of the plan for your child’s welfare, and help to ensure that their needs and best interests are taken into account.

It is important to be prepared for the meeting, by considering any questions you may have, and thinking about what you would like to contribute to the discussion. You may also wish to seek legal advice beforehand, to ensure that you understand your rights and the legal processes involved.

If you are unable to attend the meeting for any reason, you should let the local authority know as soon as possible, and discuss alternative ways of being involved in the process.

How long does a PLO meeting last?

The length of a Public Law Outline (PLO) meeting can vary, depending on the complexity of the case and the number of issues that need to be discussed.

In general, a PLO meeting will usually last between 1-2 hours. However, some meetings may take longer if there are many parties involved, or if there are particularly complex issues that need to be addressed.

It is important to note that the length of the meeting is not the most important factor. The focus should be on ensuring that all parties have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and to develop a plan that is in the best interests of the child.

The meeting should be structured in a way that allows everyone to have their say, and to ensure that all relevant information is taken into account. This may include discussing concerns that have been raised, sharing information about the child’s needs, and identifying any support or services that may be required.

It is important that the meeting is productive and that all parties leave with a clear understanding of the next steps that need to be taken. This may include further assessments, interventions, or agreements that need to be made.

Can you reschedule a plo meeting?

In general, it is possible to reschedule a Public Law Outline (PLO) meeting if there is a valid reason for doing so. However, it is important to communicate any requests to reschedule in a timely manner, to ensure that the meeting can be rearranged without causing undue delay to the case.

If you need to reschedule a PLO meeting, you should contact the person or organisation responsible for arranging the meeting as soon as possible. This could be the local authority, the court, or another relevant party.

When making the request to reschedule, you should provide a clear explanation of why you are unable to attend at the scheduled time, and suggest alternative dates or times that may be suitable. It is important to be flexible and considerate of the other parties involved, as rescheduling the meeting may have implications for their schedules as well.

It is also important to bear in mind that rescheduling a PLO meeting can potentially delay the progress of the case, and may have implications for the child’s welfare. Therefore, it is generally recommended to avoid rescheduling unless there is a valid reason to do so.

Is legal aid available for a PLO?

Legal aid may be available to parents or other parties involved in a Public Law Outline (PLO) process, subject to certain eligibility criteria.

In general, legal aid is available for PLO proceedings if:

  1. The case involves child protection issues and the local authority is considering taking the child into care, or
  2. The case involves a child who is already in care, and the local authority is considering significant changes to their care arrangements.

To be eligible for legal aid, you must also meet certain financial criteria, which are assessed based on your income and assets.

If you are eligible for legal aid, this can cover the costs of legal representation and advice during the PLO process. This can be particularly important, as the PLO process can be complex and involve legal proceedings.

It is important to note that even if you are not eligible for legal aid, you may still be able to access legal advice and representation through other sources, such as pro bono services or community legal clinics.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible for legal aid or require legal advice, it is recommended that you seek advice from a qualified legal professional.

To speak with our child care solicitors call us on 0203 601 5051 or fill in our enquiry form online.

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