The Court of Appeal on 'secure accommodation'

The Court of Appeal last month handed down a significant judgment on 'secure accommodation'. Tom Harrill sets out the main points. Read more
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  NEWS

Dec 13, 2019

Council acted unlawfully when assessing whether applicant was 'former relevant child'

The High Court has ruled that the London Borough of Ealing acted unlawfully in its assessment of whether applicant AB was a ‘former relevant child’ within the meaning of section 23C of the Children Act 1989.
Dec 12, 2019

Guidelines to be developed on removal of newborn babies amid concerns over inconsistent practice, misunderstandings of legal framework

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO) is to develop the first national, evidence-informed good practice guidelines for health and social work professionals involved in the process of removing newborn babies from their mother at birth for child protection reasons.
Dec 10, 2019

High Court to hear argument on lawfulness of short form and visual age assessments

A High Court judge will today (10 November) consider the lawfulness of short form and visual age assessments in a case brought by the Refugee Council on behalf of the claimant.
Dec 06, 2019

Council directly discriminated against couple with Sikh Indian heritage in provision of adoption services, judge rules

The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and Adopt Berkshire directly discriminated against a couple of Sikh Indian heritage in the provision of adoption services, on the grounds of race, a County Court judge has ruled.
Dec 05, 2019

Trafficked woman loses judicial review challenge amid age assessment confusion

A trafficked Vietnamese woman has lost a judicial review against two councils over her age assessment, though the judge involved criticised both authorities for failing to resolve the matter earlier.
Dec 05, 2019

Working group makes 22 recommendations to tackle shortage of medical experts prepared to work with family courts

A working group seeking solutions to the dearth of medical experts willing to work in the family courts has made 22 recommendations for change including a simpler process for payment and allowing courts work to be part of employment contracts.
Dec 04, 2019

Thirteen barristers to join family law team at Parklane Plowden Chambers

A group of 13 barristers specialising in family law are to move next year to Parklane Plowden Chambers.
Nov 29, 2019

Court of Appeal hands down key ruling on nature of 'secure accommodation'

Premises used to accommodate a 15-year-old girl became "secure accommodation" within the meaning of s.25(1) of the Children Act 1989, even though they were not designed as such, because of the use to which they were put in her case, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Nov 28, 2019

Senior judge rules on extent of anonymisation of two public law children judgments

Lord Justice Baker has given permission for two judgments he made in the Family Court to be published in full, except for identification of the child involved, following the end of criminal proceedings against the parents.
Nov 21, 2019

Councils, Directors of Children’s Services urge investment on 30th anniversary of Children Act 1989

There is “still much to do if we are to become a country that works for all children”, the President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has said on the 30th anniversary of the landmark Children Act 1989.
Nov 19, 2019

Court of Appeal allows appeal over care and placement orders over failure by judge to give adequately reasoned judgment

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal brought by a great-aunt from care and placement orders made by a judge at the conclusion of proceedings concerning a two-year-old boy, J.
Nov 15, 2019

Court of Appeal orders “unprecedented” second retrial in care proceedings following death of 10-year-old girl

The Court of Appeal has ordered a second retrial in care proceedings relating to five siblings following the death of a ten-year-old girl in 2016, describing the judgment from the first retrial as“wrong and procedurally unjust”.

  FEATURES AND ANALYSIS

November 29, 2019

Fair hearings in the Family Courts

A 'fair hearing' in the family court includes the judge creating the appropriate atmosphere. Maria Scotland analyses a recent case where a judge was criticised for holding a hearing that was procedurally unfair.
November 22, 2019

Vulnerable witnesses and parties in the Family Courts

Natalie Cross summarises important guidance on the approach to be taken to vulnerable witnesses and parties in the Family Courts.
November 15, 2019

Failure to protect

The Court of Appeal has provided some useful guidance on what might or might not constitute “failure to protect” when a child had been injured by another, writes Sarah Fahy.
October 25, 2019

Public law children cases: limits to the role of Cafcass

The High Court has recently considered the parameters of Cafcass' functions, and a dispute between German nationals over the mother's move to the UK to live permanently. Georgina Dalton analyses the rulings.
October 18, 2019

Public law children cases: improving parental situations, robust case management and judicial pressure

Georgina Dalton rounds up the latest children law cases, including rulings on improvements to parents' situations, unfair judicial pressure, and deprivations of liberty of 16-17 year olds.
October 11, 2019

Public law children cases: FGM protection and travel overseas, and reopening findings of fact

In an update on public law children cases, Georgina Dalton examines rulings on FGM protection and reopening findings of fact.
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October 04, 2019

Exploring the limits of public authority’s liability for children

Duncan Fairgrieve and Jim Duffy, barristers at 1 Crown Office Row, examine the Supreme Court’s decision in Poole Borough Council v GN and another that the respondent local authority did not owe a common law duty of care to exercise its functions under the Children Act 1989 to protect the appellants, who were children of a family which it had housed, from harm at the hands of anti-social…
September 26, 2019

Re D – the Supreme Court, 16/17 year olds and confinement

The Supreme Court has handed down a much-anticipated judgment on 16-17 year olds, deprivations of liberty and parental consent. Alex Ruck Keene explains the ruling and sets out some practical implications.
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  MORE NEWS

Nov 14, 2019

Judge allows inter-country adoption to proceed despite failure to comply with pre-adoption requirements

An application for an inter-country adoption should not fail because of inconsequential errors made by the intending adopter, a High Court Family Division judge has ruled.
Nov 14, 2019

City council defeats judicial review challenge over age assessment

Manchester City Council has defeated a judicial review challenge in a dispute about the age of a young man who immigrated from Guinea.
Nov 07, 2019

Court of Appeal judge quashes extempore ruling in child injuries case for insufficient reasoning

A Family Court judge gave inadequate reasons for her conclusions when giving an extempore judgment in a case concerning injuries to a child, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Oct 31, 2019

Family Division judge hands down ruling in care proceedings involving 49 parties

A Family Division judge has handed down his judgment in what is said to have been one of the largest public law children's cases ever litigated.
Oct 31, 2019

Behaviour of family judge meant hearing amounted to serious procedural irregularity, High Court judge finds

A district judge who was found “shaking with rage” during a case on a child’s care plan has had her ruling overturned on grounds of serious procedural irregularity.
Oct 29, 2019

President of Family Division publishes final guidance on reporting in Family Courts

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has issued the final version of his guidance regarding reporting in the Family Courts.
Oct 24, 2019

Court of Appeal rules on need for court approval of residential care placements outside England and Wales

The Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal by an unnamed local authority over a judge's refusal to give the court's approval to the council arranging for a child (C) to live in Scotland in a residential home in which he had been placed.
Oct 14, 2019

Judge hits out at lack of resources for councils looking after young vulnerable people at risk of harm

A Family Court judge has published a judgment in relation to a 15-and-a-half year old girl to highlight the resource issues that local authorities face looking after young vulnerable people at risk of harm, describing the problems as “huge”.
Oct 14, 2019

Child care workers removed from register over derogatory comments made about residents on WhatsApp group

Three residential child care workers and their manager have been removed from the Register of Social Care Workers after a hearing found their fitness to practise was currently impaired because of serious misconduct.
Oct 14, 2019

Bevan Brittan advises county council on launch of children's services company

Law firm Bevan Brittan has advised Worcestershire County Council on the development and launch of a new children’s services company, Worcestershire Children First.
Oct 09, 2019

Cafcass backs renewed focus on pre-proceedings work in public law children cases - but rejects direct role

Cafcass has said it supports a renewed focus on pre-proceedings work and managing risk in public law children cases, with more emphasis on gaining and recording the wishes and feelings of children at that stage.
Oct 03, 2019

Chambers secures £2.25m contract to deliver childcare advocacy for city council

Liverpool City Council has appointed a single barristers’ chambers to provide advocacy in court for its children’s services in childcare cases.
Oct 01, 2019

Court has no power to require Cafcass to undertake work with non-subject child, judge rules

A court has no power to require Cafcass to appoint one of its officers, whether a children's guardian or otherwise, to undertake any work with or play any role with a non-subject child, a High Court judge has concluded.
Sep 30, 2019

Family courts hearing FGM cases do not have jurisdiction to injunct Home Secretary on asylum matters, rules senior judge

There is no jurisdiction for a family court to make a FGM (female genital mutilation) protection order against the Home Secretary to control the exercise of her jurisdiction with respect to matters of immigration and asylum, the President of the Family Division has concluded.
Sep 27, 2019

Average time for care proceedings to reach first disposal now at longest since 2013: MoJ report

The percentage of care or supervision cases to reach first disposal within 26 weeks fell seven points in April to June 2019 (to 41%) compared with the same period for 2018, the latest quarterly statistics from the Ministry of Justice have revealed.
Sep 25, 2019

Guide published to help youth justice lawyers advocate for looked-after children at police station

The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Youth Justice Legal Centre at Just for Kids Law have published a step-by-step guide to help lawyers advocate effectively for looked-after children at the police station.
Sep 24, 2019

Council wins Court of Appeal challenge over decision by recorder to adjourn public law children proceedings

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal by a local authority over a recorder’s decision to adjourn public law children proceedings.
Sep 19, 2019

Justice system "unable to deliver redress for victims of child sexual abuse", inquiry finds

Neither the criminal or civil justice system is able to effectively deliver the redress that victims and survivors of child sexual abuse seek, with many finding the processes "baffling, frustrating, hostile and futile", the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has said.
Sep 18, 2019

Claim councils are "recruiting sergeants" for "county lines" provokes angry response from directors of children’s services

Councils bear an inadvertent responsibility for the growth of ‘county lines’ drugs gangs by placing looked after children outside their home area, a report has claimed.
Sep 10, 2019

Children’s Guardians body and Cafcass in dispute over website content

A row has broken out between Nagalro, the professional association for Family Court Advisers, Children’s Guardians and Independent Social Workers, and Cafcass over the information on the latter’s website.
Aug 29, 2019

County to pay mother £24k after Ombudsman report into overcrowding and failure to comply with care order

A county council has agreed to pay £24,000 after a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation into a case where a mother of three, who also took on the care of her two grandchildren, had to sleep on a mattress in her living room for more than 10 years because the local authority did not deliver the support it had agreed to.
Aug 28, 2019

Council concern over extent of private equity role in fostering agencies

Councils are growing alarmed about the activities of private equity firms which are buying up small fostering agencies, it has been reported.
Aug 27, 2019

Councils saw £800m overspend on children’s social care in 2018/19: LGA

Councils were forced to overspend on their children’s social care budgets by nearly £800m last year, the Local Government Association has said, blaming “severe funding shortages and huge demand pressures”.
Aug 20, 2019

North West council to offer £2.25m contract for provision of childcare barrister advocacy services

Liverpool City Council is to offer a contract to a set of chambers for the provision of childcare barrister advocacy services.
Aug 16, 2019

Report on special guardianship orders urges changes in mindset, regulations and protocols

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has called for major changes to special guardianship orders (SGOs) to ensure that family members who become carers have direct experience beforehand of looking after the child concerned.
Aug 14, 2019

Family court has jurisdiction to review its findings of fact, says Court of Appeal

The family court has the statutory power to review its own decisions and challenges to findings of fact on the basis of further evidence do not have to be by way of appeal only, the Court of Appeal has held.
Aug 08, 2019

High Court judge allows girl at risk of FGM to be taken on Egypt trip subject to safeguards

A girl at potential risk of female genial mutilation (FGM) may be taken on a trip to Egypt to visit her father but only in strictly controlled circumstances, a High Court judge has ruled.
Aug 07, 2019

Senior childcare barrister hire boosts family group at 42 Bedford Row

The Family Group at 42 Bedford Row has been strengthened with the arrival of senior barrister Marcia Hyde from Coram Chambers.

  MORE FEATURES

August 23, 2019

Family proceedings and the police

The “long arm” of the police - how “confidential” are family proceedings? “Not very” seems to be the answer in a recent Court of Appeal decision, writes Adam Smith.
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August 16, 2019

Judicial review challenge over closure of children’s centres defeated by local authority

The case R (on the application of L, an infant (by his mother and litigation friend)) v Buckinghamshire County Council represents the first time when the High Court considered in detail the meaning of the ‘sufficiency duty’ in section 5A of the Childcare Act 2006 (ChA 2006) in the context of whether a council’s consultation on the closure of a number of children’s centres was unlawful or not.…
August 16, 2019

Accommodation under s20 Children Act and the wishes of the child

The Royal Borough of Greenwich recently successfully defended a Children Act judicial review. Tony Harrop-Griffiths explains how.
August 16, 2019

Experts in Human Rights Act claims

Are human rights experts necessary in Human Rights Act claims? David Maggs examines the status of their evidence.
August 09, 2019

Crisis, Not Crisis?

Phil Booth summarises a Family Division working party's interim recommendations relating to public law and its comments on the role of local authority lawyers.
July 26, 2019

Committal applications in family proceedings

Phil Booth addresses apparent defects in the standard form used in committal proceedings and the factors that may apply if the court is invited to exercise its discretion to waive such defects.
July 05, 2019

NAI - who should be in the pool of perpetrators?

Tom Harrill considers a recent Court of Appeal ruling on who should be included in a pool of perpetrators.
June 28, 2019

Special Guardianship – Interim Guidance

Elisabeth Richards considers the recent interim guidance from the Family Justice Council on the management of special guardianship orders.
June 21, 2019

Impasse! Where the court and the local authority disagree on the care plan

The Court of Appeal has recently revisited the problem of where the court and the local authority disagree on the care plan. Rebecca Cross examines the judgments.
June 21, 2019

Deprivation of liberty – the limits of the inherent jurisdiction

A High Court judge recently rejected the use of the court’s inherent jurisdiction to protect 17-year-old gang member. The Court of Protection team at 39 Essex Chambers explain why.
June 14, 2019

Safeguarding partners: are you ready for 29 June 2019?

Judith Barnes issues a reminder to safeguarding partners that they need to have their new arrangements in place before the end of this month.
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June 13, 2019

Home or away?

Katherine Illsley outlines how a local authority should approach the situation where a parent to be assessed for the purposes of public children care lives in another jurisdiction.
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June 07, 2019

How should the courts approach cases with an ‘open’ pool of possible perpetrators?

Chris Stevenson, barrister at Fourteen, examines the Court of Appeal’s decision in Re B (children: uncertain perpetrator) to allow a father’s appeal against a Family Court judge’s finding that he was within a pool of possible perpetrators responsible for sexually transmitting gonorrhoea to three of his children (registration required).
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June 07, 2019

Permission to appeal and a reasonable prospect of success

The Court of Appeal has taken the opportunity to provide guidance on the meaning of “reasonable prospect of success” in the test for permission to appeal in the family law arena. Ashley Lord examines its ruling.
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May 31, 2019

Public law children cases: incomplete evidence before the judge, costs following appeals

In their latest update on recent public law children cases, Sarah Blackmore and Jacqueline Thomas examine an appeal over an order by a judge given incomplete evidence, and who pays costs following a successful appeal by a foster carer.
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May 17, 2019

Wish they weren't here?

Can a parent with parental responsibility object to their child, who is subject to an interim care order, being taken on holiday by their foster parents?
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May 17, 2019

Children in care and immigration

Naomi De Silva examines the key considerations for local authorities when care cases involve immigration issues.
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May 10, 2019

Public law children cases: balancing exercises and the costs of a successful appeal

In their latest update on recent public law children cases, Sarah Blackmore and Jacqueline Thomas examine Court of Appeal rulings on whether a judge had failed to carry out a required balancing exercise, and whether a foster carer should receive their costs from a local authority or Cafcass following a successful appeal.
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April 26, 2019

Public law children cases: identifying perpetrators and appeals against findings in private law proceedings

In their latest update on recent cases of interest to public law children practitioners, Sarah Blackmore and Jacqueline Thomas looking at rulings on the approach to identifying perpetrators, and an appeal against findings made in private law proceedings.
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April 18, 2019

Age assessments: short form assessments in obvious cases

Do social workers have to carry out a detailed assessment in all age dispute cases? Jonathan Auburn reports on a recent ruling.
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