Felicity Drinkwater looks at the ins and outs of the Public Law Outline, all the questions that you might have as well as when you should consult a solicitor.
What is the Public Law Outlined PLO?
PLO stands for the Public Law Outline. Generally this is a pre-court proceeding process the Local Authority have when considering whether they need to take a case to court. This procedure is also referred to as a ‘pre proceedings’ meeting.
What will happen at the PLO Meeting?
The purpose of the meeting is for you to have the opportunity to discuss the local authority’s concerns with your solicitor present with you. They will go through the local authority’s concerns and set out a way forward to work with the Local Authority to try and prevent your children’s case from proceeding to court. A plan or working agreement (sometimes referred to as a contract of expectations) is often drawn up to ensure progress is made under the PLO process.
What happens if I don’t go to a PLO Meeting?
The Local Authority might initiate court proceedings for non-engagement. It is always advisable for you to attend the meeting and to take a solicitor with you.
What happens at the end of the PLO Process?
If concerns of the local authority are addressed the case should be de-escalated, and the PLO process stopped. It may reduce back to the child protection process or the Child in Need process.
If the concerns of the local authority about a child are not addressed or reduced and the child and the local authority believes that a child remains at risk of harm, it is the decision of the local authority as to whether they initiate court proceedings.
Do the Local Authority have to hold a PLO meeting pre-proceedings?
No – If the social worker feels that the risk of harm to a child is so great, or the case is so urgent, a decision may be made that the case should go straight to court and the pre-proceedings work does not take place.
What is the ‘Letter Before Proceedings’
You should be given a letter by the Local Authority to take to your solicitor. This letter has a set format advising you to get a solicitor who specialises in family law The Letter allows the parent to have free legal advice through the Legal Aid Agency.
How often are the meetings held?
The initial meeting should take place within seven days of receipt of the PLO letter. Pre-Proceedings Review meetings should then take place within six to eight weeks of the initial Pre-Proceedings Meeting and every six to eight weeks thereafter.
What is the working agreement or contract of expectations?
This may include a list of items that the Local Authority are worried about- Like undertaking a Hair Strand Test, or improving home conditions. These are all specific to the individual family’s needs. Your solicitor should advise you on the appropriateness and achievability of what is put in your working agreement.
Bromleys have a large team of expertly trained solicitors who can assist you, if you have any questions please urgently contact Felicity Drinkwater by email email@example.com or call on 0161 694 4162.