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Access to Justice and Redress

A Gillick competent child (for an explanation of Gillick Competenc see KEY AREAS OF PARENTAL RESPONSABILITY) is entitled to instruct a solicitor in their own right. Where public funding (legal aid) is available a child will be entitled to make an application for such funding in the same way as an adult. Where the child is under 16 the Legal Services Commission will normally expect an application on behalf of a child to be made by an adult acting on the child’s behalf. If there are no suitable adults an application can be made by the child in person.

A child will be the appropriate applicant for legal aid where the legal problem relates to them and/or they have standing to bring an action. In certain areas, where an appeal right vests in a child’s parent (such a school admission appeals: see above) the Legal Services Commission will not view a child as an appropriate applicant for funding, notwithstanding that their rights are affected.

An action under the Human Rights Act 1998 can only be brought by a victim or would-be victim of the alleged violation. Where a child is the victim of an alleged HRA breach, a parent will not have standing to bring the action and a child should not be refused funding on the basis that an adult could fund/bring the action in their place.

On a child’s application for public funding it is their own means that will be taken into account. All applications, be subject to a consideration as to whether there are alternative sources of funding available; this could include consideration of a child’s parent’s financial circumstances, and a judgement may be made that it would be reasonable for a parent/guardian to seek advice and/or bring any action in their own name, rather than through the child.

The Civil Procedure Rules require a child to conduct proceedings through a litigation friend. However a child can apply to the court for an order that they be allowed to conduct proceedings without a litigation friend (CPR part 21).

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