Child protection, diplomatic immunity and human rights

Hannah Whitehouse summarises two recent decisions by a High Court judge in relation to diplomatic immunity and public law children proceedings that are likely to be significant and have wide-reaching ramifications. Read more
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Jun 22, 2020

Court of Appeal allows appeal over refusal of application for intermediary assessment

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal from a case management decision in care proceedings refusing an application by a parent with a learning disability for an intermediary assessment and the appointment of an intermediary.
Jun 18, 2020

Charity urges closure of “legal loophole” in housing of vulnerable children

A “legal loophole” has left hundreds of vulnerable children who face homelessness to fend for themselves in unregulated children’s homes, children’s legal charity Just for Kids Law has claimed.
Jun 17, 2020

Pandemic has led to human rights abuses of young people with autism or learning disabilities who have been detained: MPs

The coronavirus crisis has resulted in human rights abuses of young people who are autistic or have learning disabilities and have been detained, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has claimed.
Jun 17, 2020

Judge refuses application by father to adjourn final hearing so it can be held in Preston and not Manchester

A Family Court judge has refused a father’s application for an adjournment of a part-heard final hearing so the proceedings could continue to be heard in Preston rather than moved to Manchester.
Jun 15, 2020

Public Law Working Group makes recommendations for change in approach to special guardianship orders, issues best practice guidance

The Public Law Working Group led by Mr Justice Keehan has issued a series of recommendations for change in relation to special guardianship orders and also best practice guidance on their use.
Jun 15, 2020

Court of Appeal upholds broad discretion of family courts in FGM cases

The Home Secretary has lost an appeal over a ruling that in the exercise of the family court's jurisdiction to make a female genital mutilation (FGM) protection order, the family court is not bound to take a previous assessment or determination of risk of FGM made by the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal in its determination of an asylum application based upon the risk of…
Jun 11, 2020

Family Court judge considers power summarily to dismiss findings sought by local authority

The Family Court will determine allegations made by an unnamed local authority as to how a child came to sustain a head injury, Mr Justice MacDonald has ruled.
Jun 10, 2020

Mother loses appeal over fairness of hearing where her shielding QC cannot be physically present

A mother has lost her appeal over a judge’s decision to continue a fact-finding hearing later this month in care proceedings in circumstances where her leading counsel cannot be physically present because she is required to shield from the COVID-19 infection.
Jun 09, 2020

Childcare lawyer to swap council for independent bar

A childcare lawyer at Reading Borough Council is to join specialist family law set Four Brick Court in August.
Jun 09, 2020

Family President predicts “very radical reduction” in amount of time that courts afford to each hearing

It is unlikely that anything approaching a return to the normal court working environment will be achieved before the end of 2020 "or even the spring of 2021", the President of the Family Division has said.


June 22, 2020

Public law update: relinquished babies

In this family law webinar, Michael Jones gives a public law update on babies relinquished for adoption.
June 12, 2020

Childcare proceedings and autistic parents

A recent judgment incorporated a useful overview of how best to approach cases involving a parent with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the reasonable adjustments which may need to be made, writes Anna Sutcliffe.
June 05, 2020

The Public Law Outline 2014

This Practice Note provides practical guidance on key aspects of procedure and the PLO 2014 for public children proceedings.
June 05, 2020

Children case law update: vaccinations and appeals out of time

Georgina Dalton summarises a recent Court of Appeal ruling on vaccination of children in care, and a High Court decision on an appeal out of time.
May 12, 2020

Care planning, placement and case reviews during COVID-19

Daniel Benjamin assess the impact of the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 on the care planning, placement and case review obligations of local authorities.
April 15, 2020

COVID-19: contact with children in care

Mark Smith explores the legal principles that will give family practitioners their bearings and guide the court’s approach to contact with children in care through the coming weeks and months.
April 03, 2020

Serious allegations of domestic abuse

A recent private law appeal dealt with issues relevant to all Children Act cases where domestic abuse may be involved, writes Anne Chavasse.
March 27, 2020

How not to conduct a placement application

A recent case contains some very useful observations about placement applications and a good analysis of the case law, writes Anne Chavasse.

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Jun 08, 2020

Charity launches High Court challenge over dilution of children’s social care duties during COVID-19

A children’s rights charity is to ask the High Court to quash a statutory instrument that introduced significant changes to children’s social care law during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jun 04, 2020

Family judge says trial should be held on diplomatic immunity legislation and incompatibility with European Convention on Human Rights

A trial should be held on the “virtually insoluble dilemma” between diplomatic immunity and local authorities’ child protection duties, Mr Justice Mostyn has ruled in the High Court Family Division.
Jun 03, 2020

Council wins appeal over whether threshold for intervention in child care case was satisfied

A local authority has won an appeal over a judge’s ruling that her findings of fact in a child care case did not satisfy the threshold for intervention and that the proceedings should be dismissed.
Jun 02, 2020

Cafcass sees significant fall in number of public law cases received

The number of public law cases received by Cafcass in April this year fell by 8.8%, it has emerged.
Jun 02, 2020

Cafcass issues protocol on attendance of staff at court during COVID-19 recovery

Cafcass has published a new protocol providing direction on how and when its staff should attend court during the first phase of its COVID-19 recovery.
May 29, 2020

Judge criticises local authority and Children's Guardian over efforts to identify birth father but declines to revoke adoption order

A Family Division judge has rejected a birth father’s application under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to revoke an adoption order made in November 2019, despite levelling criticisms at the local authority and Children's Guardian over a lack of rigour and urgency to identify him.
May 27, 2020

Chancery Lane calls for ‘best practice’ document on remote hearings in family courts, warns of “guidance fatigue”

The Law Society has urged the President of the Family Division to issue ‘best practice’ and ‘top tips’ rather than full prescriptive guidance on remote hearings.
May 26, 2020

Council faces legal challenge amid concerns short breaks service for disabled children is underfunded

A mother of two disabled children who rely on a short breaks service has threatened Lancashire County Council with a legal challenge over its proposed budget for the scheme.
May 22, 2020

Children Act 1989 gives local authorities power to order vaccination of children in care without court order, CoA rules.

Local authorities have the power to arrange for children in their care to be given vaccinations without applying for a court order even where the parents do not consent, the Court of Appeal has said.
May 22, 2020

High Court judge adjourns care proceedings so in-person hearing can be held

A High Court judge has adjourned care proceedings after concluding that evidence from the parties should be given at an in-person hearing.
May 21, 2020

Judge names council after deciding knowledge of its social services failures in care case outweighed risk of jigsaw identification of children

A judge has severely criticised the London Borough of Haringey’s child social services department, after deciding to name the council following an appeal by the Press Association over an earlier anonymity order.
May 13, 2020

London borough defends legal challenge to level of support provided to family with child in need and older sibling

The London Borough of Bexley was entitled to decide not to pay to feed the older brother of a child in need who lived in the same home.
May 12, 2020

Charity sends letter before action over regulations relaxing social care protections

Children’s rights charity Article 39 has threatened the Department for Education with legal action if it does not withdraw regulations aimed at assisting the children’s care sector during the COVID-19 crisis.
May 07, 2020

Court of Appeal urges councils to take prompt action in adoption cases where there is uncertainty about paternity

The Court of Appeal has urged local authorities to take timely action where there is a need to determine a child’s paternity in adoption cases.
May 06, 2020

Court of Appeal judge to advise on ‘recovery’ phase for Family Court after lockdown

A Court of Appeal judge, Lord Justice Baker, has been invited to advise on the way forward for the ‘recovery’ phase for the Family Court after the lockdown, the President of the Family Division has revealed.
May 06, 2020

Research finds wide variation in family cases going ahead via remote hearings or being adjourned

Respondents to a rapid consultation on remote hearings in the family court commissioned by the President of the Family Division have reported wide variation in the kind of cases that are currently going ahead or being adjourned and in the level of support available for parties, the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has said.
May 05, 2020

Second judge in a week sends ruling to Education Secretary to highlight lack of secure residential placements

A second judge in a week has sent a copy of his judgment to ministers to express concern at the lack of secure residential placements.
May 05, 2020

High Court judge decides to hear lay evidence remotely in hearing of application by local authority for care order

A High Court judge has decided to proceed with lay evidence remotely in a hearing of a local authority’s application for a care order in respect of a four-year-old child.
May 01, 2020

Children’s Commissioner for England calls for revocation of “unnecessary” regulations relaxing children’s social care protections

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has sharply criticised the government’s relaxation of regulations relating to children’s social care, saying she does not believe that they are necessary except in one limited case.
Apr 30, 2020

Court of Appeal sets out ‘cardinal points’ on remote hearings and approach to public law children cases

The Court of Appeal has handed down rulings in the first two appeals relating to the welfare of children to have reached the court on the issue of remote hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apr 29, 2020

High Court judge sends copy of ruling to ministers to express concern over “nationwide problem” of lack of capacity for secure care

A High Court judge has sent ministers a copy of a ruling in which he expressed concern at a “nationwide problem” of the very limited capacity in the children's social care system for young people with complex needs who need secure care.
Apr 28, 2020

Government relaxation of regulations relating to children’s social care draws criticism

The government has amended several sets of regulations with a view to assisting the children’s social care sector during the coronavirus pandemic but the move has been strongly criticised by a children’s rights charity.
Apr 28, 2020

Court of Appeal finds remote adoption hearing is inappropriate

The Court of Appeal last week vacated the final hearing of an adoption application that was due to be heard over eight days commencing this week remotely, it has been reported.
Apr 23, 2020

ADCS President warns of potential spike in demand and backlog of care applications following COVID-19 outbreak

It is possible that there will be “huge spikes in demand across the children’s social care spectrum”, a backlog of new care applications and more children needing to come into care as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services for 2020/21 has warned.
Apr 21, 2020

Family President intervenes to halt plan to hold final hearing remotely into allegations of factitious illness

The President of the Family Division has ruled that a planned 15-day hearing into allegations made by a local authority that a young child has been caused significant harm as a result of fabricated or reduced illness (FII) should not take place remotely.


March 13, 2020

Amendment of LA Plan, post final orders - what can parents do?

Natalie Cross looks at what needs to happen where parents seek to challenge a change to a care plan where the earlier plan (i.e. remaining at home) has already been approved by the court when the final order was made.
February 21, 2020

Parental contact – private v public law proceedings

Lucy Sowden and Shabab Rizvi analyse how the promotion of contact differs whether proceedings are in relation to private law or public law.
February 21, 2020

Placing young people in unregulated accommodation

Local authorities face potential claims for damages where young people have been placed in unregulated accommodation and suffered exploitation. Cynthia Watts sets out how they can minimise the risk.
February 14, 2020

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.
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.
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.