Maximising support for families in a system under strain

The children social care sector needs urgent reform to support families and avoid crisis, writes Jo Porter. Read more
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Jul 23, 2021

Supreme Court to rule next week on use of inherent jurisdiction in cases where there is insufficient registered secure accommodation for vulnerable children

The Supreme Court is to hand down next week its ruling in a landmark case on the use of the inherent jurisdiction to authorise placements in unregistered secure accommodation in situations where there are insufficient places in registered secure children’s homes.
Jul 22, 2021

Judge praises council for "brave but proper decision" to end care proceedings

A Family Court judge has praised the London Borough of Bromley for its “brave but proper decision” to end care proceedings in case where a child was suspected to have suffered deliberate injury but was later found not to.
Jul 22, 2021

High Court judge finds for London borough in row with city council over calculation of age of asylum-seeker

The London Borough of Croydon has won a High Court case brought against it by Birmingham City Council over how an asylum seeker’s age was calculated.
Jul 20, 2021

Cafcass blames “unsustainable pressures” as it implements prioritisation protocol for private law cases in West Midlands - other areas likely to follow in weeks ahead

Cafcass has implemented a process to prioritise and manage high workloads in areas covering Birmingham, the Black Country, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Herefordshire family courts due to what it called "unsustainable pressures" on the family justice system in the area.
Jul 14, 2021

No need to change on ‘Freedom Day’ how family courts and Court of Protection have been operating, says Family President

The President of the Family Division has ruled out issuing firm guidance on how the family courts and the Court of Protection should approach their work after 19 July – dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ – when coronavirus restrictions are lifted by the Government.
Jul 13, 2021

Court of Appeal allows appeal by council as judgment in childcare proceedings did not contain required analysis of competing options

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal by a council over a judge’s order that effectively rejected the local authority’s care plan for adoption for an 18-month-old child (A).
Jul 13, 2021

Campaign group hits councils with legal challenge over placement of children in care outside their area

The Good Law Project has launched a judicial review challenge against five local authorities over the placement of children in care outside their local area and against the Education Secretary over the failure to force the councils to comply with their obligations.
Jul 09, 2021

High Court judge compelled to highlight “once again” shortage of accommodation for children with highly complex behavioural and emotional needs

A High Court judge has – despite expressing "considerable reservations” – extended an order authorising the deprivation of liberty of a child who is being cared for in an unregulated placement considered ill-equipped to meet his behavioural and emotional needs.
Jul 09, 2021

Ombudsman criticises council after agency failed to follow statutory guidance when assessing prospective adopter

City of Wolverhampton Council has agreed to ensure its adoption recruitment procedure adheres to statutory guidance after an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found a woman was wrongly screened out of the adoption process.
Jul 07, 2021

Family Court judge issues ruling to highlight successful use of “Resolutions Model”

A mother and daughter have been reunited under the rarely used ‘Resolutions Model’ by the Family Court.


July 22, 2021

Accusations in judgments of misconduct

A social worker has recently been awarded damages by the European Court of Human Rights for unfair accusations of professional misconduct. Charlotte Gilmartin analyses the ruling.
July 15, 2021

Public law children case update: May 2021

Kerry Cockayne analyses important recent rulings for childcare lawyers on special guardianship orders, discharge of care orders, and joinder of foster carers.
June 17, 2021

Public law children case law update

Chris Wells analyses two important rulings for childcare lawyers that cover assessment of birth families, and interim separation.
June 10, 2021

Failure to remove claims and section 20 accommodation

A High Court Master has recently considered whether in ‘failure to remove’ cases where a child has been accommodated under section 20, the accommodation of the child gives rise to a duty of care by way of assumption of responsibility, even if other steps taken by the local authority do not do so. Paul Stagg analyses the ruling.
June 10, 2021

Terminating a father’s responsibility for the child

Fran Massarella reports on a recent case concerning an application to terminate a father’s responsibility for the child pursuant to s.4(2A) of the Children Act 1989.
May 27, 2021

Where now for failure to remove claims?

The High Court has handed down a highly significant judgment in a ‘failure to remove’ claim involving a city council. Adam Weitzman QC and Caroline Lody provide a brief guide to the ruling and offer some preliminary thoughts on its implications.
May 27, 2021

Local authority duties to notify consular authorities

The High Court has provided important guidance to local authorities on the extent of their notification duties under Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, writes Edward Lamb.
May 20, 2021

Obligations to assess the birth family of the mother

Fran Massarella looks at the outcome of an application under Part 18 Family Procedure Rules 2010 to determine whether there was an obligation for the local authority to assess members of the mother’s “birth family”.

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Jul 06, 2021

Couple secure rectification, damages from council over data processing after "unfair" safeguarding inquiry

A couple have successfully claimed rectification and damages from a local authority for their personal data being processed unfairly after a safeguarding inquiry.
Jul 05, 2021

Law Society warns against remote hearings in public law children cases where parties have limited access to technology

Public law children cases where a party has limited access to technology or where parties require an intermediary or a translator are instances where remote hearings may not be the best format, the Law Society has warned.
Jun 30, 2021

Tribunal rejects age assessment claim against council

The Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) has thrown out a challenge brought by an asylum seeker over an age assessment by the London Borough of Haringey.
Jun 24, 2021

Public law case starts fall but care proceedings disposals slow to longest average time since 2012: MoJ

There was a 7% decrease in public law case starts in January to March 2021 compared to the same quarter in 2020, the Ministry of Justice has reported.
Jun 23, 2021

European Court of Human Rights orders UK Government to pay €84k to social worker criticised by Family Court judge

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered the Government to pay €24,000 for non-pecuniary damage and €60,000 in legal costs to a social worker who was accused of professional misconduct by a Family Court judge in the course of a fact-finding hearing.
Jun 22, 2021

Ombudsman criticises London borough over failures as corporate parent to former looked-after child who alleged abuse

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said the London Borough of Lewisham exposed a former looked after child to "significant harm" after it failed to address her claims of abuse while in foster care properly.
Jun 17, 2021

Court of Appeal rules judge was wrong to join foster carers to care proceedings

A Family Court judge was wrong to join foster carers with whom a child has been placed since he was a few days old, and who now wish to apply to adopt him, as parties to care proceedings, the Court of Appeal has found.
Jun 17, 2021

Local authority secures court approval for vaccination of boy in face of parental objections

A boy subject to an interim care order must be vaccinated in line with the schedule recommended by the National Health Service despite his parents’ objections, the High Court has ruled.
Jun 15, 2021

Judge dismisses application by birth parents for boy in interim care to be circumcised before second birthday

A High Court judge has dismissed an application by a mother for a boy (P), who is aged 21 months and in interim care, to be circumcised in accordance with the custom of the Muslim faith before his second birthday.
Jun 14, 2021

Family President launches rapid consultation on remote, hybrid and in-person hearings in family justice system and Court of Protection

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has launched a two-week rapid consultation on remote, hybrid and in-person hearings in the family justice system and the Court of Protection.
Jun 11, 2021

Government to make changes to National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children but proposals not sufficient to deter Kent from threatened legal action

The Home Office and the Department for Education have unveiled changes to the National Transfer Scheme that they claim will ensure responsibility for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) will be more fairly distributed.
Jun 09, 2021

Huge demand for urgent children's services diverts resources away from early intervention, say councils

Councils in England overspent on children’ services by £832m in 2019-20, the Local Government Association has said.
Jun 09, 2021

Family foster carers could be due backdated payments following Ombudsman investigation

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council has agreed to check whether it has paid friends and family foster carers properly over the past five years, following an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
Jun 07, 2021

Research shows rising number of public law cases involving newborn babies, highlights short notice given to most parents

In the majority of public law cases involving newborn babies parents are given very little formal notice that care proceedings have been issued and the case is to be heard in court, research by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (FJO) has shown.
Jun 07, 2021

Kent pursues legal action against Home Office amid surge in unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

Kent County Council has served a letter before action on the Home Office as it warned that it may no longer be able to accept new unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) “within days”.
Jun 02, 2021

Order made by email in childcare case exhibited “serious procedural irregularity”, Court of Appeal rules

An order made by email to vacate a psychological assessment in a childcare case was wrong and unjust for “serious procedural irregularity”, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
May 24, 2021

Court of Appeal allows appeal against order removing new-born baby after mother with learning difficulties not given opportunity to put her point of view

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal against an order for the separation of a new-born child from his mother, who has learning difficulties.
May 24, 2021

High Court judge refuses application for interim relief in age assessment dispute

A High Court judge has refused an application for interim relief from a claimant who says he is 17 years old but was assessed by the London Borough of Hackney as aged between 21 and 25.
May 20, 2021

High Court judge clarifies position on adoption for co-parenting families where relationship has ended

The Family Court has ruled that in co-parenting families one parent may adopt a child born to the other even if they are no longer partners.
May 19, 2021

Home Office and city council facing legal challenge over age assessments at Kent Intake Unit

The High Court has granted permission for a legal challenge over the lawfulness of the Home Office’s policy on age assessments at Kent Intake Unit (KIU).
May 18, 2021

Report urges halt to publication of judgments online concerning sexual abuse of children pending review amid concerns at “deeply troubling” information available and exposure of vulnerable to further risk

There should be a halt to posting judgments concerning the sexual abuse of children, and the removal of those already posted, pending a review and full implementation of guidance on these judgments, a report commissioned by the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, as part of his Transparency Review has recommended.
May 17, 2021

Divisional Court hands down key ruling on interaction of diplomatic immunity and child protection

The Divisional Court has rejected an application by a council concerned about the welfare of children of a diplomat for a declaration that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) breaches Articles 3 or 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
May 07, 2021

Mother wins appeal over lack of due process when she applied for leave to oppose adoption order

A mother who wished to contest an adoption order was not afforded due process by the Family Court, the Court of Appeal has found.
May 05, 2021

High Court judge revokes adoption orders after acknowledging "exceptional circumstances"

A judge in the Family Division of the High Court has revoked adoption orders for an 18 year old (A) and a 16 year old (B) after concluding that there were “compelling highly exceptional and particular circumstances” that supported such a step.
May 04, 2021

Government facing legal challenge over unregulated accommodation and 16-17 year olds

A children’s rights charity has threatened the Government with legal action over its decision not to ban the use of unregulated accommodation for 16 and 17 year-old children in care.


May 13, 2021

Lies and Lucas in the Family Court

Andrew Bagchi QC and Anna Lavelle examine an important Court of Appeal ruling on fact-finding hearings and Lucas directions, and considerations of children giving oral evidence in family proceedings.
May 06, 2021

Applications to discharge special guardianship orders

Fran Massarella examines a Court of Appeal case which concerned the test for granting leave to apply to discharge a special guardianship order and the construction of s.14D(5) of the Children Act 1989.
April 29, 2021

Public law judgments: When to seek clarification and when to ask for permission to appeal

The Court of Appeal recently allowed an appeal by a father against findings that he had sexually abused his daughter, on the basis that the judge’s analysis was insufficient and flawed. Joanne Oakes examines the ruling.
April 22, 2021

Lies, welfare and the future risk of harm

Jackson LJ has reiterated the basic principles to be applied when determining whether to make care and placement orders and discussed the significance of lies in the context of welfare and the impact of lies when assessing the future risk of harm. Kate Pye-Jones examines the case.
April 15, 2021

Liability for abuse suffered by claimant placed in private care home

Steven Ford QC analyses a ruling where, in the absence of fault, a local authority was not liable for sexual assaults committed by an employee of the private residential care home at which it placed the claimant. The relationship between the abusive employee and the placing authority was not akin to employment and the duty of care owed by the authority to the claimant was not non-delegable.
April 08, 2021

Vulnerable persons - participation and evidence in family proceedings

The following Family practice note from LexisNexis provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering the participation of vulnerable people and evidence in family proceedings.
April 08, 2021

The EU Settlement Scheme: children, care leavers and local authority duties

Local authorities are coming under increasing pressure to ensure that children and care-leavers with EU law rights to reside in the UK make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) before the deadline of 30 June 2021, writes Gráinne Mellon.
March 31, 2021

Mid-trial dismissal and withdrawal of allegations

Fran Massarella reports on a case which concerned an interim application to dismiss public law proceedings involving six children where there were numerous allegations of sexual abuse.
March 26, 2021

Our treatment of the vulnerable

The pandemic has shone a powerful searchlight on to the unnecessarily damaged lives of too many of our most vulnerable people and children. In a paper given at a Royal Holloway University of London Symposium, Sir James Munby, former President of the Family Division, looks at the challenges facing the family justice system.
March 24, 2021

Hugh James' NPS Framework Fortnight - Lot 2: Child Social Services

Jo Couch, Sara Tomaszewski and Martin Jones speak about recent developments including the law concerning the authorisation of the Deprivation of Liberty of Children and briefly survey the law relating to European child protection cooperation post-Brexit.
March 12, 2021

Transparency in the family courts

Ths following Family practice note from LexisNexis provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering recent developments in the transparency of family court proceedings.
March 12, 2021

Judicial review, standing and interest in the outcome

A recent ruling has confirmed that applicants for judicial review must have a sufficient interest in the relief sought to have standing to bring the claim, write Sarah Salmon and Joshua Swirsky.
March 12, 2021

Children proceedings: control of documents

Francesca Massarella examines a recent appeal concerning the power of the Family Court to control the distribution of its judgments and of other documents filed for the purpose of the proceedings.
March 10, 2021

Post COVID-19 child abuse litigation: A new future

Sharing their experiences and learning over the last 18 months, Leah Jones, Sarah Erwin-Jones and James Arrowsmith look beyond the immediate impact of COVID-19 and discuss the future of litigation including child abuse litigation.
March 09, 2021

Unregulated placements

Olivia Choudhury examines a case involving the use of an unregulated placement by Lancashire County Council and discusses the impact of such placements alongside possible reforms.
March 05, 2021

Temporary approval of parents: Regulations 17 and 19

Stephen Williams examines the rules around temporary approval for parents and the overuse of s38(6) assessments.
February 26, 2021

‘Failure to remove’ claims – the decision in HXA v Surrey County Council

Paul Stagg analyses an important decision this month on 'failure to remove' claims and also summarises the other case law to date, before looking at pending cases and the likely way forward to the higher courts.
February 26, 2021

Children's Services - public law update January 2021

Acland Bryant rounds up some key rulings in public law children cases in January 2021.
February 26, 2021

The lure of s38(6) placement over the Regulation 24 'risk'

In the first in a two-part series, Stephen Williams examines the increasing trend for local authorities to propose that a child be placed under s38(6) of the Children Act 1989 rather than under the standard temporary approval mechanism under regulation 24.
February 19, 2021

Adoption and notification of the father and relatives

Francesca Massarella reports on a case concerning whether the father and maternal grandparents ought to be notified of a child’s birth or subsequent adoption proceedings.