Employees and child protection issues

The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently considered whether a probation service officer who failed to disclose a child protection issue was fairly dismissed. Ceri Fuller, Zoë Wigan and Hilary Larter analyse the outcome. Read more
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  NEWS

Feb 13, 2020

Judge rules against Jehovah's Witnesses over care proceedings and religious duty of confidentiality

The rights of children outweigh those of confidentiality when disclosures of information about allegations of abuse are made to ministers of religion, the High Court has ruled.
Feb 10, 2020

Court of Appeal orders council to pay £12k costs contribution after great-aunt wins appeal over care and placement orders

The Court of Appeal has ordered a local authority to make a contribution of £12,000 towards the costs of a great-aunt who won an appeal from care and placement orders made by a judge at the conclusion of proceedings concerning a two-year-old boy, J.
Feb 07, 2020

Council to offer child protection specific training contract

Legal Services Lincolnshire has introduced a bespoke trainee solicitor contract intended to grow its own child protection lawyer, as part of a new recruitment and retention strategy.
Feb 04, 2020

President in call for evidence as part of Transparency Review in Family Court

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has issued a call for evidence as part of the Family Court's ‘Transparency Review’.
Feb 04, 2020

Ex-social worker fined for unlawfully disclosing personal data

A former social worker has been prosecuted for passing the personal information of service users to a third party provider for local authority young person placements.
Jan 29, 2020

Court of Appeal sets out principles for deciding whether father or relative should be informed of existence of child who might be adopted

The Court of Appeal has set out the principles governing decisions – whether by local authorities as adoption agencies or by the court – as to whether a putative father or a relative should be informed of the existence of a child who might be adopted.
Jan 24, 2020

Abbreviated age assessment of Afghan national carried out by council was unlawful, High Court rules

A council’s assessment of an Afghan national’s age, based on his physical appearance and demeanour, was unlawful because the abbreviated assessment undertaken failed to adequately acknowledge the potential margin for error and give him the corresponding benefit of the doubt, a High Court judge has found.
Jan 23, 2020

Ombudsman hits out at council for making “serious and unsubstantiated allegations” about asylum seeker

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has accused a council of making “serious and unsubstantiated allegations” about a vulnerable, asylum-seeking mother.
Jan 23, 2020

Court of Appeal sets aside adoption order after judge prematurely ruled out birth family placement

The Court of Appeal has set aside an adoption order on the grounds that it had been premature for judge to rule out the possibility of a birth family placement for child B.
Jan 17, 2020

Ombudsman reminds councils of their foster carer school transport duties

Councils across England are being reminded about the financial support they must provide to foster carers’ school transport expenses following an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman into Wolverhampton council.

  FEATURES AND ANALYSIS

January 17, 2020

Diverse standards of parenting

The Court of Appeal recently rejected an appeal by a 'breatharian' mother against a special guardianship order. Georgina Dalton explains why.
January 15, 2020

New Family Court wellbeing protocol for Birmingham bids to tackle ‘by return, twenty-four-seven, last-minute culture’

The Wellbeing Committee of the Family Court at Birmingham has introduced a protocol this month with a view to professionals, practitioners, court staff and members of the judiciary being able to benefit from increased wellbeing, a reduction in unnecessary stress and the achievement of a better work life balance,
January 10, 2020

Siblings in care proceedings

Kate Clarkson explores the issue of sibling contact in care proceedings and explains why it should be a higher priority.
January 10, 2020

Placement of looked after English children in Scotland

Justin Gray provides an analysis of the current law on placement of looked after English children in Scotland that will be of interest to child care lawyers and solicitors, including those acting for local authorities.
December 20, 2019

Assumption of responsibility

Andrew Warnock QC asks the question many involved with the public sector have been asking since the Supreme Court ruling in Poole v GN – when does an 'Assumption of Responsibility' arise?
December 20, 2019

FGM protection orders and the asylum jurisdiction

Srishti Suresh analyses an important recent decision from the President of the Family Division on the relationship between the family courts and the immigration jurisdiction.
December 13, 2019

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.
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.

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  MORE NEWS

Jan 17, 2020

Ombudsman issues further report after Medway council fails to implement Ombudsman's recommendations

The Local Government Ombudsman has issued a rare further report stating their recommendations were not implemented by Medway Council and the correct process to disagree with the recommendations was not followed.
Jan 16, 2020

Government updates advice on adoption, calls on councils to ensure social workers "understand what the law says" on who can adopt

The Department for Education has called on directors of children’s services to review the processes for recruiting adopters to ensure their councils are compliant with the legislative framework on who can adopt.
Jan 16, 2020

Welsh councillor suspended for four months for conduct breaches

Cardiff Council has handed a councillor a four months suspension after an investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Jan 15, 2020

Victims of child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester to have cases newly investigated after damning report

A major criminal investigation undertaken from 2004 to 2005 that uncovered the systematic exploitation of looked after children mainly in the care system in the city of Manchester, led to very few positive criminal justice outcomes, an independent review has found.
Jan 09, 2020

Councils warn of "immense pressure" as number of children in care reaches record level

The number of children in care has risen by 28% in the past decade pushing the system to breaking point, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.
Jan 06, 2020

Ministry to provide £165m funding for Troubled Families programme in 2020/21

The Troubled Families programme, which involves work with the whole family unit across local services, is to receive up to £165m in new funding, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.
Dec 30, 2019

Council wins appeal over refusal by judge of application for interim care order

A local authority has won an appeal over a Family Court judge’s refusal of its application for interim care orders for two children.
Dec 19, 2019

Council refused permission to challenge Ombudsman findings on payment of special guardians

A High Court judge has refused to grant Rochdale Council permission to challenge the findings of a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman on the way it pays special guardians.
Dec 19, 2019

Top judge warns of “unremitting pressure of work in the Family Court”

Judges, lawyers and others in the family justice system are “running flat out up a down escalator which, despite our efforts, is outpacing us”, the President of the Family Division has warned.
Dec 16, 2019

Council criticised in dispute over designated local authority for care proceedings

A Court of Appeal judge has criticised Wakefield Council for trying to pass responsibility for a child protection case onto Brighton & Hove City Council, whose involvement she described as “tangential at best”.
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 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”.
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.

  MORE FEATURES

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.
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).