What we do in Legal and Investigations

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NICCY’s Legal and Investigations team deal with complaints and queries from Parents/Guardians, Carers, Practitioners and Professionals as well as directly from Children and Young People in relation to the services and/or practice of public bodies (relevant authorities) in Northern Ireland.

These complaints or queries cover a wide range of areas e.g. in education, health and social care, discrimination, disability etc (see our Annual Complaints and Legal Report for further details on the type of issues brought to us and the overall functions of the L&I Department).   If children and young people have problems in relation to public bodies, they can seek help from the team.

If you are a child or young person click here

Areas of Work

Complaints Handling

NICCY’s Legal and Investigations team deal with complaints and queries from parents, guardians, carers, practitioners, and professionals as well as directly from children and young people, in relation to the services and practice of relevant authorities in Northern Ireland. These cover a wide range of issues including matters relating to education and special educational needs, health including mental health and quality of treatment, housing, care arrangements and respite services.     A referral can be made to our team using our online referral form.


Where breaches of the rights of children and young people are alleged, and where internal complaints processes have been exhausted, NICCY’s Legal & Investigations Team can conduct Independent Investigations. NICCY can also use the powers conferred upon it (by the 2003 Order), to conduct Formal Investigations into cases, including those which may expose systemic failings adversely impacting on Children’s Rights. In this instance, NICCY will produce a report – with a register of recommendations and will monitor the implementation of such by relevant authorities (‘duty bearers’) – where it has been determined that they have breached their statutory duties to children and young people.

You can find out more about Complaints Handlings (Casework) and Investigations here.

Legal Proceedings

NICCY’s Legal & Investigations team can commence, intervene in, or assist with legal proceedings in addressing breaches of the rights of children and young people.  We can also assist in the provision of legal funding.  These sit ‘outside’ complaints casework and are dealt with using established criteria.  Such proceedings aim to bring about legal or policy changes in relation to the rights and outcomes for the child involved.

Strategic Litigation i.e. which aims to bring about positive legal changes in children’s rights and which may also set precedents, thereby potentially impacting larger numbers of children is a growing area of our work.

Protected Disclosures

We progress protected disclosures in accordance with the ‘Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014 which provides us with responsibility to assist workers from external organisations, who have concerns on a matter relating to our remit i.e. the safeguarding and promotion of the rights and best interests of children and young people.

Holding Government to Account

When the government fail to protect children’s rights we work with our Policy & Research colleagues to raise issues of concern and make recommendations to government and relevant authorities, on important issues affecting children.

Providing Advice

Our team provide advice to ensure the implementation of children’s rights in compliance with current legislation, strategies and policies and we advise government departments, to ensure children’s rights are safeguarded and promoted.

You can find out more information, including examples of our legal work here.

More info