What Happens at a PLO or Pre Proceedings Meeting?

Posted on: 6 mins read
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Patricia Cannon

Head of Family and Childcare

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If social services are concerned about the welfare of your children and think they may need to go to Court, they will invite you to a pre-proceedings meeting, also known as a PLO (Public Law Outline) meeting.

It’s good to know what exactly you can expect when attending a pre-proceedings meeting, or a Public Law Outline (PLO), so that there aren’t any surprises when you turn up.

For people who don’t have the legal know-how around these areas, it can all be really confusing and daunting, especially when it’s about something as serious and important to you as your children and their welfare.

At Simpson Millar, we understand the stresses that come hand in hand with this kind of case, and all the other feelings it can bring up in you. That’s why we provide thorough support and advice to help you deal with a Public Law Outline or pre-proceedings meeting.

If you’ve been invited to a pre-proceedings meeting, we’ll be able to walk you through what it might look like and what you might have to say or do. In addition, we’ll answer any questions you may have about the Public Law Outline meeting so that you can be prepared for what will happen when you turn up.

This way, we can help take the stress out of going to a pre-proceedings meeting, so you can focus on learning about what will happen and preparing yourself as thoroughly as possible.

Get in touch today!

To see how we can help you and your child, get in touch with our care proceedings solicitors.

About the Meeting

At the meeting, you can expect to talk about:

  • The contents of your Letter Before Proceedings
  • The social workers’ concerns
  • The support they’ve offered you
  • What you need to do to reduce the concerns they have about your children
  • Timescales they will give you to carry out the actions you all decide on before things progress to Court proceedings

There will be a written record kept of the meeting in case anyone needs the information in the future.

You might already have had meetings with social workers, but a PLO meeting is different because it is often the last chance to discuss their concerns before the social workers ask to go to Court about your children.

It’s important to make sure that you listen to everything that’s being said during this meeting. It may feel overwhelming and difficult to take in.Despite this, it’s essential that you listen and understand what is being said to you during the PLO meeting. This is so that you can understand the social worker’s concerns about your child’s welfare, as well as the support they offered you.

During this meeting, you will also be able to discuss the changes you can make to cause the social workers to be less worried about the safety of your child or children. This is useful information, because if you make these changes, your situation could really change.

What is the Purpose of a PLO Meeting?

The purpose of the meeting is to consider what needs to happen to protect your children and in turn prevent Court proceedings from having to go ahead.

This is when you’re given the chance to turn things around, if you have the resources and ability to do so. In the PLO meeting, you’ll be told exactly what you need to do to keep your child at home with you, so that the child doesn’t have to be removed. Essentially, this is social services trying their hardest to help you understand the areas you could be improving for your child, so that they can live safely at home with you, without being at risk of harm.

Everyone in the meeting will have your children’s best interests in mind and the aim is to put a plan in place to improve the situation for you and your children. 

No one wants to remove your child from you, and from your home. Many people believe that social services take children away from their homes and families without a second thought, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, removing the child is often the last resort, as social workers very much understand how traumatising this can be for everyone involved, especially your child. This is why PLO meetings happen – so that any last efforts to change the home environment and situation can be made, to try and prevent the child from having to be removed. 

Who Can Attend a PLO Meeting?

At the meeting, you can expect your social worker to bring a lawyer to advise them, and you are entitled to bring a lawyer too. You’re entitled to Legal Aid if you do choose to get legal advice, which will cover the costs for you.

Our Care Proceedings Solicitors have helped many parents who have been asked to go to a PLO meeting and we can give you advice tailored to your situation.

In addition, we can provide you help throughout the whole process of the PLO meeting, from what to expect to how to prepare yourself.

Our team are approachable and friendly, offering judgement-free legal help and advice, meaning that whatever your situation is, we take an unbiased approach. We understand how hard these proceedings can be. That’s why we’re here to listen to every thought, worry, concern or question you may have about what’s happening and what the next steps are.

We’re here to make the law transparent and open, by explaining things in simpler terms so that you never have to feel lost or confused at any point during the Public Law Outline meeting.

If you choose us to represent you and attend a PLO meeting with you, we will represent your case from an unbiased legal standpoint, aiming to fully understand your circumstances and your story as best we can. This means we’ll be able to help you get as much out of the pre-proceedings meeting as possible.

How Long Does a PLO Meeting Last?

The meeting won’t be too long, but it will last as long as it takes to discuss all the social workers’ concerns and make a clear plan of what to do next. After the PLO meeting, the plan you make will usually be reviewed within 6-8 weeks to see if things are getting better or if the Court will need to get involved.

The overall pre-proceedings process can last several months. If social workers think that things have started to get better for your children, they might decide that Court won’t be needed.

If the social workers think there has been no change, they might progress your case to Court proceedings, but your Care Proceedings Solicitor can speak to you about that if it happens and help you prepare and continue to represent you in Court proceedings.

You should work closely with your Solicitor and your social worker throughout the pre-proceedings process so you can be sure you’re getting all the advice you can and reduce the chances of having to go to Court.

You’ll probably have regular meetings with your social worker and we can give you as much legal advice as you need during the PLO process.

Get in Touch

Our Care Proceedings team are experts so we can spot the signs if we think things are going to be taken to Court, and we can talk through your options if this is the case.

We can guide and advise you on what’s going on and what the next steps will be in your case. We’ll listen to your story and figure out the best way of going forward in your situation.

In addition, we understand how important your child is to you, so we’ll do everything we can to make sure that, whatever decision is reached, it is in the best interests of your child and their wellbeing.

Throughout the proceedings for your case, from the PLO meeting onwards, we will listen to your feelings, needs and story, so that we are able to represent you as best we can. We will work together to move forwards wherever we can in the case.

Get in touch for initial advice today.


Family Rights Group. (n.d.). Pre-proceedings. Retrieved from https://frg.org.uk/get-help-and-advice/what/pre-proceedings/

Knowsley Safeguarding Children Partnership. (n.d.). Pre-Proceedings & PLO Procedures. Retrieved from https://knowsleychildcare.proceduresonline.com/p_pre_proceed_plo.html

The Judiciary of England and Wales. (2021, March). Prior to court proceedings: Best Practice Guidance. Retrieved from https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Prior-to-court-proceedings-BPG-report_clickable.pdf

Patricia Cannon

Head of Family and Childcare

Areas of Expertise:
Care Proceedings

As a Partner, Children Panel Solicitor and Department Head of our teams of Care Proceedings Solicitors in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds; Patricia represents parents, other carers and children in care proceedings and other matters related to disputes regarding children.

Patricia also offers advice and representation to those seeking protection from or responding to allegations of domestic abuse.

Patricia joined Simpson Millar in October 2018, and has over 20 years’ experience in Family Law, having qualified as a Solicitor in 2001.

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