Statement: Court of Session ruling on the Children's Hearings System and ECHR

27 November 2018

The Inner House of the Court of Session today decided that the way the children’s hearings system considers brothers and sisters is compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights — the right to respect for family and private life.

Commenting on the case, Commissioner Bruce Adamson said:

“This case and others have recently called into question the adequacy of the law around sibling contact in Scotland. Notwithstanding the decision of the court on the facts of the case, it is not clear that existing legal processes strike the right balance for children in the care system between protecting their right to family life and their right to privacy.
“Sibling contact is something care-experienced children and young people have raised with me on many occasions. They talk about their frustration at the barriers placed in their way by the system, which often prevent them from even asking for contact with their brothers and sisters.
“There should be no dispute about sibling relationships being capable of warranting Article 8 protections, or that there’s an unfairness if we can’t find a way to enable children to protect those rights within the hearings system.
"It is time for the Scottish Government and all partners in the care system to work together and find a solution to this issue.”

Read our policy page on sibling contact.