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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Question by Martin Vye to Jenny Whittle, Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services

May 17, 2014 9:17 AM

Given that the President of the Family Division of the High Court has said that local authority lawyers need to get involved advising and assisting their social work clients earlier than is often the case, can the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children's Services give the Council a firm assurance that the present system of billing by Legal Services is not rationing legal advice to Specialist Children's Services to the point where the expeditious progress of cases through the courts, relating for example to taking children into care or making Adoption Orders, could be compromised?

Answer

I can assure Mr Vye, and the Council, that the present system of billing by Kent Legal Services does not ration legal advice to Specialist Children's Services (SCS), either in relation to the expeditious progress of cases through the courts, or at all.

The charging model allows SCS to carefully monitor and manage their use of legal services and does not act as a barrier to SCS accessing legal advice and representation in a timely and appropriate way according to the requirements of any particular matter. The charging model allows Kent Legal Services (KLS) to make available to SCS the appropriate level of legal expertise, at the appropriate time, and to do so in a highly cost effective way. For example, over the last two years the average length of care proceedings conducted by KLS on behalf of SCS has reduced from 60 weeks to 35 weeks.