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Child Protection

    I am writing to thank you for the outstanding work you did for me. Words cannot give my appreciation justice. You were superbly efficient and professional.

    Client testimonial about Nicky Hunter - Family

    I chose to work with Mary because of her no-nonsense approach – no false promises, no big ego claims – just downright honesty and integrity and a delivery of results at the end. Mary is professional, reassuring and has a great sense of humour. I would highly recommend her.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thank you for being a fantastic solicitor and source of support Mary I needed it!!!.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thank you so much for all you have done for me……it has been great having you on my side. I couldn’t have wished for a better lawyer…..and I will certainly keep your name and that of David Grays…..if I ever needed a lawyer again, for whatever reason (your advice) has made a huge difference to my own well-being, and I thank you very much.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thanks again for your help Gael, I am so glad I sought your assistance.

    Client testimonial about Gael Phillips - Family

    To Elspeth, Just to say thanks for all your help over the last 6 months. If it wasn't for you I would have just given up. I really appreciate all the work you put in to this and your constant reassurance that it was the right thing to do.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    With all my heart.  Thank you for your support during my most difficult time.  Obviously your legal expertise is fantastic but the friendliness of my solicitors was priceless.

    Client testimonial about Samantha Farndale - Family

    Many thanks for all the sound advice and for handling a very tricky situation so well.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    I couldn't have done it without your help and, once again, I cannot thank you enough for your expertise and very kind attention and consideration in this case.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Mary Shaw has been an absolute delight to work with on finalizing my divorce. I deeply appreciate your agreeing to advise me on this matter. Your advice to me has been simply invaluable.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thank you for all your help and support.

    Client testimonial about Claire Hunter - Family

    So happy with the outcome thank you for your help.

    Client testimonial about Gael Phillips - Family

    Words can’t tell how much we appreciated all the help you gave us over the past few months.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    Mary Shaw was outstanding and professional at every turn.  She was an excellent advocate for my daughter

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thanks again for your time, approach & actions. After we left he said that you were the first person who'd questioned him, listened & treat him like he was of worth. Be encouraged & encourage others.

    Client testimonial about Sukhi Patter - Family

    Four years ago almost to the week, we were in such a terrible place and even now it seems just a bad dream. Without doubt your guidance and support goes beyond words. Thank You

    Client testimonial about Lesley Monkhouse - Family

    Thank you very much for everything. I received the decree absolute, and I am very happy.

    Client testimonial about Gael Phillips - Family

    Can’t thank you enough for your care and consideration, attention to detail and support along the way – and for making a painful process far less so. I trusted you 100% from day one

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thank you so much. Of course I regret that I will probably not see you again but at least I can draw a line under all this. Thank you for all your work and help and warmth.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    I thought you did a great job, I particularly valued both you and your colleagues compassionate approach as I realise a clients emotional state can affect their thinking at the height of conflict

    Client testimonial about Ailsa Gilhespy - Family

    I have got through it with your support and you have kept me on the right tracks for the last 12 months too - even if it was sometimes things I didn't want to hear! ..... if we hadn't have had such a great solicitor (our daughter's) life could have turned out very different.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    Thank you again – you have made me feel at ease and I can relax a bit more now

    Client testimonial about Louise Law - Family

    My thanks to Mary for her understanding and support through the last couple of years.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    We are immensely grateful to you and your team for the outcome of the court order today. The whole process has been quite stressful, but we felt fully supported and completely guided by you. You were a good friend rather than a legal contact. Your expertise of the law and how to overcome the hurdles in this difficult case were superb.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    Sukhi Patter was very good in assisting me and at all times and reassuring that she was in control and very good at what she was doing.

    Client testimonial about Sukhi Patter - Family

    I just wanted to write and thank you for all your hard work in handling my case – and for your kindness, patience and empathy.  Having you “fighting” my corner and advising me, made what was a very difficult time a little easier.  Thank you and best wishes.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    Heartfelt thanks.  I really do not know how I'd cope without you at these meetings.  You really are great at your job and its greatly appreciated.

    Client testimonial about Jenny Carter - Family

    I owe the success of my case to your dedication and perseverance, which you showed while handling my case. It goes without saying that I will always refer to your firm if I ever need legal assistance again. Once again my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.

    Client testimonial about Nicky Hunter - Family

    Thanks again for all your amazing help over the case – you helped me so much at a time that was probably the most stressful I’ve had in my life (which for the things in my background is saying something). My very best to you and your team.

    Client testimonial about Jenny Carter - Family

    You were excellent throughout my divorce. My kids are my world and I can't thank you enough for your support during this time. You are a dedicated, professional and intuitive lawyer and I will always be grateful for what you gave me in self confidence and advice.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Once again please accept our thanks for a job very well done.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    To say that your professionalism and quality of service have been faultless would be telling only half the story. Throughout all that has gone on, your honest advice and genuine care have been an invaluable support, for which I will always be grateful.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    I just wanted to say how very grateful I am to you. You've been a calm and supportive presence during what has been an enormously difficult time, and your advice has been invaluable. I'm very glad that we went down the collaborative route, and I think that your experience did much to smooth the path for everyone. Thank you.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    We used David Gray Solicitors LLP when we adopted a baby boy from an orphanage in Africa, and wished to have him legally adopted in the UK. The service we received was superb; a special mention should be made for Elspeth, she gives the law profession an excellent name. Elspeth was without doubt the key reason for the success of our case.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    Sam at David Gray provided a thorough, professional and friendly service. She took the time and effort to really understand what I needed, and got the end result I was after. Really impressed.

    Client testimonial about Samantha Farndale - Family

    I am truly grateful for all you have done.

    Client testimonial about Claire Hunter - Family

    Fantastic news on my decree absolute, thanks for all your help and patience, you have been brilliant.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to you for the efforts made over the past couple of years to finally get me divorced.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your help and advice on this. I would have come out with a lot less had I not spoken to you and I'm very grateful for your time.

    Client testimonial about Samantha Farndale - Family

    I really appreciate all you have done over the last couple of years. I simply wouldn't be where I am without your help.

    Client testimonial about Elspeth Thomson - Family

    I would like to thank you for the service you have provided over the past few weeks. I believe that you’re prompt intervention, with regard to legality, and the professional manner in which you presented at the hearing played a key part in the other parties’ claim being dismissed.

    Client testimonial about Lucy Mead - Family

    There’s such a lot to thank you for, like your thoughtfulness and so very much more. So I am sending warm wishes and special thanks.My life is much richer for just knowing you. People like you make the world a nicer place.

    Client testimonial about Sukhi Patter - Family

    Just wanted to wish you and yours a wonderful happy Christmas. Thanks to you, my Christmas is going to be so much happier and relaxed than I thought it would be, so thank you.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Mary, thank you very much for all the time and effort you have put in to get me to this good place now.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thank you very much for seeing me….and especially for giving such helpful advice about the contact with the children…..the meeting with you was extremely uplifting

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Just a belated thank you for everything. I would have never got through this without you. Very many thanks for your excellent professional support and guidance.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Many thanks indeed for all of your work on this matter, the service I have received has been exceptional.

    Client testimonial about Lucy Mead - Family

    The MIAM was incredibly helpful. You gave me all of the information I would have expected a solicitor to give me at a first meeting.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Mediation & Family

    Thanks very much for your guidance during my recent divorce proceedings.  It is so nice to have peace of mind after those worrying, intervening years. I really appreciated your professional guidance throughout the proceedings and am so pleased to have been represented by yourself and David Gray Solicitors LLP during the case”.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

    Thank you for your highly professional support, and attention to detail……. At the start I was not sure how the long distance collaboration would work but it has been a very friendly, easy, working relationship between us, and I appreciate very much how you conveyed a sense of solidarity to me even though we have never met. I would also like to thank Kim who was the perfect 'relay' between us whenever it was necessary.

    Client testimonial about Mary Shaw - Family

Local Authorities have a duty to protect children in their area.  When Social Services receive information suggesting a child might be at risk of harm they will carry out an investigation.

Dealing with Social Services can be a daunting process.  It is therefore important that you get legal advice as early as possible to help you understand what is going on and decide how best to deal with the situation.

Legal Aid is still available for parents who want advice in respect of Social Services involvement with their child (though can be subject to your financial situation).

Child Protection Conference

Where Social Services think that a child is at risk of harm they will hold a Child Protection Conference.  The Conference will decide if there is a risk and if there is there will be a Child Protection Plan.  The Plan is intended to:-

  • Keep the child safe and prevent further harm
  • Promote their welfare
  • To support the family to care for the child

Legal Aid is not always available to cover a lawyer attending conferences but we are able to meet with you to go through any reports that have been prepared and can provide you with advice about what is likely to happen.

Pre-Proceedings Meetings

When Social workers are concerned about a child they may consider taking the case to Court so that they can ask the Court to make Orders to protect the child.

In most cases Social Services will arrange a meeting with the parents to see if it is possible to reach an agreement about what needs to happen to protect the child from harm so that Court proceedings can be avoided.

A letter will be sent out giving details of the meeting and will set out the concerns that Social Services have, what they intend doing and what they want the parents to do.

You can take a lawyer with you to a pre-proceedings meeting.  If you are a parent or person with parental responsibility, you will be entitled to free Legal Aid which will cover the lawyer accompanying you to the meeting.

There are some cases where Social Workers may feel that the risk of harm to a child is so great, or the case so urgent, that the case should go straight to Court.  In these cases there will be no pre-proceedings meeting.

Court Proceedings

When Social Services consider that a child is suffering significant harm, or would be likely to suffer significant harm if a Court Order was not made, then they can go to Court to ask for a Court Order.

The Orders the Court can make include:-

  1. Emergency Protection Order
  2. Interim Care Order/Care Order
  3. Interim Supervision Order/Supervision Order

Social Services will have to file evidence in support of the case.  They will have to set out what harm they consider the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.  You get an opportunity to respond to that.

If you are a parent or person with parental responsibility, then you will be entitled to free Legal Aid to be represented in the Court proceedings.  It is important that you see a lawyer as soon as possible for advice about any Court proceedings.

Emergency Protection Order

This is an Order that can last for a maximum of 8 days.  It authorises the Local Authority to remove a child to accommodation provided by them or on their behalf or can prevent a child being removed from the place they were being accommodated before the Order was made.

Care Order

This places a child in the care of the Local Authority and gives the Local Authority parental responsibility for the child.  Parents do not lose their parental responsibility when a Care Order is made.

Supervision Order

This is an Order which places the child under the supervision of a Local Authority and places an appointed supervisor under a duty to advise, assist and befriend a supervised child.  The Local Authority do not require parental responsibility for the child under a Supervision Order.

Procedure

  • Application issued by Social Services.
  • Meeting for all the lawyers in the case.
  • Case Management Hearing – at this hearing the Court want to know what the issues in the case are, what evidence will be filed and when and they will fix a date for the next hearing.
  • Local Authority evidence filed.
  • Statements from parents filed.
  • Guardian’s report filed.
  • Further meeting for the lawyers.
  • Issues Resolution Hearing – at this hearing the Court identify what is agreed and what remains in issue. If there is no agreement about the arrangements for the child then the Court will fix a hearing at which they can make a decision.
  • Final Hearing – this takes place where it has not been possible for an agreement about the arrangements to be reached. The Court will usually hear evidence from the Social Worker, parents and Guardian and will hear from the lawyers for each person as to what they say about the arrangements for the children and the Orders that should be made.  The Court then make a decision.

The Court expect the proceedings to finish within 26 weeks.

The Court can be asked to make an Interim Order (temporary Order).  If an Interim Care Order is made then Social Services can decide on things such as where the child lives during the Court proceedings.  They could decide a child will be in foster care during the case.

It is considered important that the children’s interests are protected during the proceedings.  They will therefore have their own lawyer.  There will also be a Children’s Guardian who is an independent person with expertise in advising the Court about what they consider to be in a child’s best interests.  The Guardian is separate from Social Services and may disagree with them about what is best for the child.  The Court will always pay special attention to the views of the Children’s Guardian.  It is through the Children’s Guardian that the children’s wishes and feelings are made known to the Judge.

You will have a say in what happens.  Your views will be put forward through your lawyer and in a written Statement, which we prepare for you and which everyone in the case sees.  You will have an opportunity to speak with the Social Worker and the Children’s Guardian.  If there is no agreement then you will be able to speak directly to the Court at the final hearing if you wish to give evidence.

The team specialising in this area of work

  • Partner
  • Solicitor
  • Solicitor
  • Solicitor
  • Solicitor
  • Legal Assistant
  • Legal Assistant
  • Legal Assistant