Public Law Outline (PLO)

Posted: 27 March 2023

‘Take this letter to a Solicitor Now’ – Letter Before Proceedings
Public Law Outline (PLO)

If you have parental responsibility for a child and receive a letter from Social Services saying they are concerned about your child or children and invite you to a PLO meeting to discuss their concerns it is likely, you will be eligible for legal aid.

Public Law Outline meetings or Pre Proceedings meetings take place before court proceedings are issued by the local authority. This pre court process is often referred to as simply ‘PLO’.

The PLO process is the last step before the Local Authority decide whether to initiate court proceedings.  The PLO process is usually started when the Local Authority consider that not enough progress has been made with a child subject to a Child Protection Plan and that they still have concerns about the care the child is receiving.

Public Law Outline

Letter before proceedings

This is a letter usually sent to you by the Social Worker’s team manager informing you that the PLO process is starting and inviting you to a pre-proceedings meeting. These meetings are usually held at Local Authority offices. You are advised within the letter to contact a Solicitor for advice. This letter will set out the concerns that Social Services have regarding the child’s care and also what Social Services would like to happen to avoid the matter progressing to court. This is referred to as the PLO plan.

PLO meeting

This is a meeting between you and Social Services.  It will usually be attended by you, your Solicitor, any Social Workers involved in your matter, the Social Workers Team Manager, and the Local Authority’s Solicitor. The meeting is usually chaired by the Team Manager and a minute taker will be present to document what is discussed.

During this meeting the PLO plan will be discussed. The PLO plan will set out what the Local Authority would want you to do to reduce their concerns. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to work with professionals and help to alleviate their concerns.

You will have the opportunity to share your comments regarding the PLO plan and anything you may agree or disagree with. You also have the opportunity to raise comments or queries with your Solicitor before or after the meeting, which your Solicitor can advise you on.

At the end of the meeting, it is common for a review PLO meeting to be scheduled. This is typically around 8 weeks after the initial meeting but differ depending on the plan agreed and/or the circumstances of your matter.

Review PLO meeting

The review PLO meeting will consider the progress made since the initial meeting and whether the PLO plan has been followed, and enough changes have been made. It will be determined at this meeting whether the PLO process needs to continue, whether the matter can be de-escalated or whether the matter needs escalating. If the Local Authority consider that not enough progress has been made or that continuing with the PLO process would not necessary make things improve, then they may consider issuing court proceedings. If proceedings are issued, you would be notified of this. If you have a Solicitor instructed at the time, they would also be notified of this, and you can instruct them in relation to the court proceedings.


Occasionally during PLO, you can undergo assessments such as parenting assessments and psychological assessments. If there are concerns regarding drugs and alcohol, hair strand testing may be undertaken, and you may be requested to seek support from specific support services.

PLO does not take the place of the Child Protection Plan or child protection meetings. They often run alongside each other.

If you have any questions regarding Public Law Outline meetings or any other family law related matter, please contact a member of our family department on 01245 493 959 (option 3) or  email [email protected]

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