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. Read more
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  NEWS

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.
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.

  FEATURES AND ANALYSIS

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.

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  MORE NEWS

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.
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.

  MORE FEATURES

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).
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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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