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. Read more
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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 03, 2021

Council fails in appeal over direction by judge that parents and child should undergo residential assessment

A Family Court judge has rejected an appeal brought by a local authority against a case management decision by a district judge pursuant to s 38(6) of the Children Act (1989) directing that the parents and the subject child (“L”) should undergo a residential assessment.
Apr 27, 2021

London borough consults on support payment scheme for survivors of abuse at children’s homes

Islington Council has launched a consultation this month on a proposed support payment scheme for survivors of abuse suffered while placed by the local authority in one of its children’s homes from 1966 to 1995.
Apr 23, 2021

Kent teen left to live in tent during Covid-19 crisis, Ombudsman investigation finds

A Kent teenager was left to sofa surf and live in a tent for almost two months by Medway Council during the COVID-19 pandemic after his family was left homeless, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Apr 21, 2021

High Court judge questions whether children’s services at council are fit for purpose after identifying “egregious and longstanding failures” in case over eight years period

Herefordshire Council is to hold an extraordinary meeting this month “to agree swift and decisive action” to improve its Children’s Services after a High Court judge concluded in a scathing judgment that the local authority had “utterly failed” children who were the subject of public law proceedings.
Apr 14, 2021

Court of Appeal allows appeal over decision by Family Court judge not to separate mother and baby

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal by a local authority over a judge’s decision not to separate a mother and a baby.
Apr 12, 2021

Professionals back retention of supervision orders as option for courts in care proceedings, but half call for changes to be made

Nine out of ten professionals think standalone supervision orders should continue to be an option in care proceedings, according to a survey by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (NFJO).
Apr 12, 2021

Judge considers whether local authority obliged to assess members of ‘original family’ of mother who herself was adopted

A Family Court judge has issued a ruling on whether, within public law proceedings, there was any obligation on a local authority to assess members of the biological/birth family of the mother of the subject infant child, where the mother herself was adopted as a child and raised by adoptive parents.


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.

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Apr 09, 2021

Rare appeal allowed over refusal by judge to adjourn final care hearing

A mother's appeal of a decision by a family judge not to adjourn an imminent final hearing in care proceedings has been allowed in a "rare" case before the Court of Appeal.
Mar 31, 2021

Deprivation of liberty and writs of habeas corpus

The Court of Protection has court found that if a local authority does not apply for an order under the inherent jurisdiction, a parent can challenge the deprivation of liberty of their child in a specialist school by bringing a writ of habeas corpus. Joshua Swirsky analyses the ruling.
Mar 31, 2021

Claimant secures interim relief in dispute over age assessment by county council

The High Court has ruled that Kent County Council must support and accommodate Sudanese refugee LYB as though he is a child until a full hearing can resolve his age.
Mar 31, 2021

Judge refuses permission for legal challenge to age assessment

The High Court has refused to allow a judicial review of an age assessment by Cardiff City Council.
Mar 28, 2021

Average time for care proceedings continued upward trend in 2020 – with final quarter reaching levels not seen since 2013

The average time for a care or supervision case to reach first disposal was 38 weeks in 2020, up 5 weeks from 2019, it has emerged.
Mar 28, 2021

Family President asks Court of Appeal judge to consider how to achieve efficient return to court, but predicts some form of remote working likely to foreseeable future

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has asked Lord Justice Baker to examine how the most efficient return to court can be achieved over the coming months.
Mar 25, 2021

Court of Appeal dismisses bid by journalist for access to documents held by council in relation to public law children proceedings, but calls for guidance in form of court rules

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by a journalist after she was refused access to documents held by Southampton City Council in relation to care and placement proceedings.
Mar 25, 2021

Home Secretary sets out reforms to framework for age assessment of asylum seekers, including fast-track statutory appeal right

The Government is to bring forward plans to introduce a new National Age Assessment Board (NAAB) and consult on creating a fast-track statutory appeal right against age assessment decisions it makes “to avoid excessive judicial review litigation”, the Home Office has said.
Mar 18, 2021

Ombudsman issues guide for dealing with children’s services statutory complaints

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published a guide on handling complaints under the children's services statutory complaints process in order to help councils avoid the “pitfalls” seen in previous investigations.
Mar 15, 2021

Judge orders children to be taken into long-term foster care over concerns about weight

A Family Court judge has made a care order for two children described as "severely overweight" to be taken into long-term foster care, following an application by West Sussex County Council.
Mar 12, 2021

Judge says recent case shows how exceptional circumstances must be if court is to use its power to dismiss care proceedings without having heard all the evidence

A Family Court judge has refused applications to dismiss care proceedings at a half-way stage made by a number of people accused of sexual offences against children.
Mar 11, 2021

Council was “gatekeeping” when it failed to investigate children’s services complaints properly, Ombudsman says

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has criticised Isle of Wight Council for “gatekeeping” after it failed to properly investigate a mother's complaint about the way it removed her disabled son's personal budget.
Mar 04, 2021

Court of Appeal hears appeal by journalist over access to court documents from public law children case

The Court of Appeal is today (4 March) hearing an appeal from a journalist over a judge’s refusal of her application for permission to access court documents in relation to public law proceedings concerning a child.
Mar 04, 2021

Judge approves placement in Scotland for 15-year-old from London, expresses concern at lack of availability in England and Wales

A judge has deplored the lack of secure placements for young people in England and Wales in a case where a troubled 15-year-old had to be moved from London to Scotland.
Mar 03, 2021

Family, Drug and Alcohol Court launched to cover Birmingham and Solihull

The UK’s 12th Family, Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) – covering the Birmingham and Solihull areas – will hold its first hearings early this month.
Mar 02, 2021

Final report from Public Law Working Group set up by Family President makes 47 core recommendations

The Public Law Working Group (PLWG) set up by the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has this week published its final report, which contains some 47 core recommendations.
Mar 02, 2021

Judge rules council breached ECHR rights of orthodox Jewish 15-year-old boy - but not his brother - over proposal for respite placement accommodation

A High Court judge has handed down a ruling in a disagreement over whether two boys should be given respite placement accommodation in a residential home in the Greater Manchester area or in an exclusively orthodox Jewish residential home in London.
Feb 26, 2021

High Court rejects application by mother to prevent local authority from imposing vaccinations on child in foster care

A High Court judge has rejected a mother's application, supported by the father, to prevent a local authority from imposing a programme of vaccinations on a child in foster care without their consent.
Feb 24, 2021

Public law family specialist joins Pump Court

Public law family specialist Catherine Ellis has joined Pump Court Chambers.
Feb 23, 2021

Department for Education to ban placing of vulnerable under 16s in unregulated accommodation from September 2021

A ban on placing vulnerable children under the age of 16 in unregulated accommodation or semi-independent placements will come into force in September this year, the Education Secretary has said.
Feb 18, 2021

Deputy Master strikes out of most of ‘failure to remove’ claim against county council

Surrey County Council has successfully had struck out most of a claim brought by a woman who said its social services department failed to protect her from abuse, neglect and rape.
Feb 17, 2021

Court of Appeal allows appeal by father against abuse findings over insufficient reasoning, failure by judge to take into account material factors

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal by a father over a Family Court judge’s finding that he had abused his daughter, with the matter remitted to be reheard by a different judge.
Feb 17, 2021

Nuffield Family Justice Observatory to consult on use of supervision orders in care proceedings

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (FJO) has launched a consultation seeking views about supervision orders and their use in care proceedings.
Feb 12, 2021

Judge hits out at lack of regulated placement for vulnerable, suicidal 16 year old, despite 11 High Court hearings and sending series of judgments to ministers

An exasperated High Court judge has sent a fourth judgment to ministers over the continuing unavailability of a regulated placement for a vulnerable 16 year old with multifaceted difficulties and at a high risk of serious self-harm or suicide.
Feb 12, 2021

Ombudsman issues reminder to councils on duties to parents when asking them to leave family home during safeguarding investigations

Newcastle City Council has agreed to review its practices and pay compensation to a man who complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) that, following an allegation he had been harming his children, social workers told him to leave the home, but did not make it clear to him this was voluntary.


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.
February 11, 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Children’s Social Care Tracker

This tracker is focused on children’s social care and is intended to be used to track key developments, legislation, guidance, parliamentary briefing notes and other sources of interest relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) and children’s social care, where relevant to local government lawyers.
January 29, 2021

Interim care orders, parental alienation and procedural fairness

Francesca Massarella looks at a recent appeal against an interim care order in a case of potential alienation.
January 15, 2021

Changing safeguards for children in care: the Article 39 case

David Gregory looks at a powerful recent Court of Appeal judgment on the consultation undertaken by the Government on changes to the delivery of children's services during the pandemic.
January 07, 2021

Children’s Social Care Tracker

This tracker from LexisNexis is focused on children’s social care and is intended to be used to track key developments, legislation, guidance, parliamentary briefing notes and other sources of interest relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) and children’s social care, where relevant to local government lawyers.
December 18, 2020

Guidance documents for abbreviated age assessments

The High Court recently found a city council’s guidance for abbreviated age assessments to be unlawful. Philip Rule explains why.
December 18, 2020

The courts and the lack of secure accommodation for children

How does the Court approach the increasingly difficult decisions it faces in relation to the national shortage of secure accommodation for children? Ellen Lloyd analyses an important ruling.
December 14, 2020

Services for Children: understanding the framework and how decisions are made

David Lock QC provides an introduction to health and social care law in relation to children.
November 27, 2020

Vaccinations for children

When it comes to vaccinations for children, what happens when there is disagreement either between parents or between parents and the local authority? Sophia Stapleton looks at the legal background.
November 27, 2020

Can foster carers be employees?

Mark Radford looks at the question of whether or not foster carers can be employees following a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case.
November 20, 2020

Prospective adopters and return of the child to the local authority

Francesca Massarella examines a recent mandatory injunction application by prospective adopters for the return of one sibling back to their care pursuant to the Human Rights Act 1998.