Today the Children (Scotland) Bill ("the Bill") was back before the Scottish Parliament for Stage 3 proceedings – in simple terms, that means for final amendment and the all-important vote.

The Bill proposes substantial changes to the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, which is the current piece of legislation regulating child law in Scotland. Whilst the 1995 Act has its good points, it's been in force for over 25 years. Since then, the family unit has changed.

Family formations are different, surrogacy and adoption have become more prominent, parental roles have altered and there's been a shift in people's work-life balance. It's hugely important, therefore, that the law serves families and how they live and work now.

The changes proposed by the Bill aim to bring child law in Scotland further in-line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC came into force in 1992. It is the most complete statement of children's rights ever produced and the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. The Convention has 54 articles which set out the civil, social, political, economic and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. It also covers how adults and governments must collaborate to ensure that all children are able to enjoy these rights.

The Scottish Government states that 'adults should think about the best interests of children and young people when making choices that affect them'.

Therefore, adults should:

    • think about what’s best for children and young people in their day to day lives when making decisions
    • make sure children and young people are protected and cared for
    • make sure that groups who protect and care for children and young people are good at what they do

    The changes introduced by the Bill will affect a variety of people; children, parents, siblings, grandparents (and other extended family members) together with professionals such as solicitors, social workers, contact centre workers and volunteers, child psychologists, Sheriffs, and those working as child welfare reporters or curators ad litem.

    Sarah Lilley from our Inverness office and Lisa Girdwood based in Glasgow are both accredited Child Law specialists:- "As specialists in this important area of law we have been scrutinising the Bill during its passage through Parliament. The implications of this new legislation are far reaching and we are ready to advise our clients as to how these may impact upon them and their children."

    Colleagues in our Government, Regulation and Competition team have recently blogged on how other laws are changing to fulfil the Scottish Government commitment to incorporating the UNCRC into Scots Law.  Solicitor Tony Convery and Partner Jackie McGuire comment:- "Another piece of legislation in this area can be expected in the near future. Our team will be watching closely to see how the Scottish Government decides to implement other aspects of this international treaty into Scots law."

    At Brodies, we are keeping a close eye on the Bill's progress and over the coming weeks, will be highlighting the upcoming changes, what they mean in practice and how they will affect those involved. Keep your eyes peeled…


    Kate Bradbury