To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what measures are in place to ensure that family lawyers dealing with children have the required staff training and qualifications to ensure that the children in their care have the best representation; and how many family lawyers have been disciplined for practising without having the required training and qualifications in the last five years.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) operates accreditation schemes for solicitors practising in family law and specifically for solicitors acting for children (and adults) in public law care proceedings. There are currently around 3,000 solicitors on the family law scheme and around 2,000 solicitors on the child law scheme.
Accreditation is not a requirement for practice in family or child law, but it would be a disciplinary matter for a solicitor to claim accreditation if they do not have it. We are not aware of any cases referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in relation to this matter.
The Bar Council, which is responsible for the training of barristers, does not impose any requirements on barristers to undertake training in family or child law.
Members of the Institute of Legal Executives must work under the supervision of a solicitor. Only those legal executives who are members of the SRA's Children Panel may represent children in family proceedings. In the last five years, one member was disciplined for practising without having the required training in a family matter.