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Balancing the rights of parents and children: The Children (Scotland) Bill 2019

Barnes Macfarlane, Lesley-Anne


Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane


The Scottish Government is in the process of updating the Family Justice system. This includes the legislation regulating how family court law cases (i.e. disputes about children between family members)progress through the courts.

In family law court cases, the most important consideration is the best interests/welfare of the child. However, courts must also balance the competing rights of different family members. This can result in tension between the rights of parents and their children in family cases. Sometimes other family members are also involved.

In view of the above, it is important to ensure that existing and proposed Children (Scotland) Bill 2019 is compatible with the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights ('the ECHR') and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ('the UNCRC').

The purpose of this detailed Report is to consider:

a) The balance currently struck between the rights and interests of parents and children in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, now 24 years old.

b) How the balance of rights might change if the Children (Scotland) Bill 2019 becomes law.

Report Type Research Report
Acceptance Date Nov 4, 2019
Online Publication Date Nov 15, 2019
Publication Date Nov 15, 2019
Deposit Date Dec 4, 2019
Pages 1-75
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information As part of its scrutiny of the Children (Scotland) Bill 2019, Justice Committee Members commissioned an external academic to analyse both the current law and the proposed reforms in the Bill from a human rights perspective. That work was undertaken by Dr Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane of Edinburgh Napier University. A copy of her Report (and her Report Summary), Balancing the Rights of Parents and Children, can be found here: