What you need to know
The letter of issue is a new requirement under the current guidance. It informs parents that the local authority is applying to court for a care or supervision order. It is for use in cases where there are no steps a parent could take to prevent proceedings being issued. It should follow the template in Annex B of the guidance.
The letter of issue should include a list of local solicitors. Parents and anybody else with parental responsibility are eligible for non-means tested legal aid once proceedings are issued.
Children who are subject to the proceedings will also be parties to the proceedings, and will be represented by a children’s guardian who instructs a solicitor on their behalf. Older children may instruct their solicitor directly.
Urgent cases or incomplete paperwork
It was noted in the evaluation of the pilot phase of the revised PLO that the new processes might risk shifting delay for children to the pre-proceedings phase if local authorities delayed making an application because the required paperwork was incomplete (potentially leaving the child at risk for longer)
The guidance is clear that local authorities should not delay making an application because of incomplete documentation if this is necessary to protect a child.
Good Practice Guidance issued by the ADCS referred to in para 2:20 of this guidance was written for pilot stage of the revised PLO, so some of the terminology has changed but it still provides relevant information on good practice in urgent cases.