Rebecca Stevens, Partner, Royds Withy King
This is an article regarding the practical aspects to assessing competence in children. The article explores a range of practicalities, such as meeting a child client and the important aspects to consider, such as the venue, explaining your role as a solicitor and the role of the Guardian clearly to the child. The article looks at how to assess competence and considers relevant case law, such as Re W (Parental Agreement with Local Authority). The article explores other issues to consider when assessing competence, such as sharing legal documents with a child who is party to the proceedings and what to consider if there are conflicting views between the Guardian and the child. The article also considers how best to communicate and report the wishes and feelings as articulated by a child and how to use the court as a setting to build rapport, explain the process, and allow the child to become familiar with the judicial landscape. The article signposts toolkits available to help children communicate their wishes and feelings and highlights the benefit of the child communicating directly with the Judge to ensure they feel included in the process.
The full article has been published in the August issue of Family Law.