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. Read more
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Feb 03, 2021

Leading children law QC joins 4PB

One of the leading children lawyers in the country, Piers Pressdee QC, has joined 4PB with immediate effect.
Feb 01, 2021

Council and guardian fail in appeal over refusal by judge of application for placement orders

The Court of Appeal has rejected appeals by a local authority and a children's guardian against a Family Court judge’s decision to refuse an application for placement orders in respect of two children.
Jan 28, 2021

Upper Tribunal allows appeal over age assessment that failed to meet procedural safeguards

An Upper Tribunal judge has granted an asylum seeker a declaration that he was 15 at the age he entered into the country and when he was assessed by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, rather than over 18 and more likely 20 as the local authority concluded.
Jan 27, 2021

Council calls Ombudsman recommendations in child protection case “inappropriate and misguided”, reserves legal position over report conclusions

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) and Kent County Council are at loggerheads over an investigation into the handling of a 'cross-border' child protection case.
Jan 26, 2021

Judge rules out notifying consular authorities of adoption proceedings in "unusual case"

A High Court judge has ruled out joining a relinquished child and seeking the assistance of the Romanian consular authorities to track the father down.
Jan 22, 2021

Family Division judge hits out at "breathtaking incompetence" of council, failures on disclosure to court

A judge has accused a borough council of “breathtaking incompetence”, and severely criticised a social worker, in a case where a boy was left in a “thoroughly corrosive” foster placement for nine months longer than he should have been.
Jan 20, 2021

Council not entitled to refuse to assess needs of Vietnamese woman on basis of preliminary age assessment by different authority, judge finds

A London borough was not entitled to refuse to assess the needs of young Vietnamese woman on the basis of a preliminary assessment of age carried out by another council, a Deputy High Court judge has ruled.
Jan 19, 2021

Council pays £8k+ after failing to protect children from older brother

Three young children were left without any protection from their violent older brother after Somerset County Council failed to help their family, an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Jan 18, 2021

Family Division judge sets out future lessons for non-notification cases after dismissing application by local authority

A High Court judge has set out lessons for the future in non-notification cases, after refusing to endorse a local authority’s decision not to disclose the existence of a 10-month-old boy to his father.
Jan 15, 2021

Government launches independent review of children’s social care

The Government has launched an independent review of children's social care to “radically reform the system” and address poor outcomes for children in care.


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.

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Jan 15, 2021

Age assessments 2020: a year in review

Donnchadh Greene provides an overview of some of the key legal cases in 2020 concerning age assessments and support for those whose age is disputed.
Jan 14, 2021

Cafcass updates guidance on advisers seeing children and families during lockdown

Cafcass has published updated guidance on arrangements for Family Court advisers to see children and families, work in Cafcass offices and attend court under lockdown restrictions.
Jan 11, 2021

Senior family judge warns against allocation of hearing time outside normal sitting hours of court save in exceptional circumstances

The allocation of additional hearing time outside the normal sitting hours of the Family Court - between 10.00am and 4.30pm, with an adequate adjournment at lunchtime - should be seen as an exceptional occurrence, and not the norm, and should be limited to no more than a 30-minute extension to the court day, the Family President has stressed.
Dec 22, 2020

Care proceedings taking significantly longer with fewer disposals within 26 week time limit: Ministry of Justice

The average time for a care or supervision case to reach first disposal was 40 weeks in July to September 2020, up seven weeks from the same quarter in 2019, the latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice have revealed.
Dec 22, 2020

High Court judge grants interim relief in age assessment dispute

A High Court judge has granted a claimant interim relief in a case where he wishes to challenge an age assessment conducted on behalf of Liverpool City Council.
Dec 18, 2020

Court of Appeal allows appeal by city in dispute between three councils over designation in respect of care order

A city council has won an appeal over its designation as the local authority in respect of a care order for a 15-year-old girl (J) who was in need of secure accommodation.
Dec 15, 2020

Family Justice Board sets out priority actions to relieve immediate pressures on system and deliver long-term reform

The Family Justice Board (FJB) has set out the priority actions it intends to pursue in response both to immediate pressures within the family justice system, and to bring about longer-term reform.
Dec 14, 2020

Court of Appeal agrees to hear case over journalist access to court records in care proceedings

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal in a case concerning the question of the extent to which journalists can gain access to court records in family law proceedings, it has been reported.
Dec 11, 2020

Ombudsman report urges councils to scrutinise services for children in care

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has called on council scrutiny committees to be more proactive following research that found vulnerable children being looked after by councils are far more disadvantaged than those looked after by parents.
Dec 11, 2020

Ombudsman investigation finds council failed to support foster carers after mother of girl died

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised a council’s children’s trust after an investigation found it failed to support properly a couple caring for a girl whose mother had died.
Dec 07, 2020

Public law children barrister at county council switches to 3PB in Birmingham

Nicola Brown, a barrister at Staffordshire County Council who specialises in care and placement proceedings, is to join 3PB in January 2021.
Dec 03, 2020

Court of Appeal upholds adoption after rare hearing of substantive application for revocation

The Court of Appeal has turned down a rare case in which heard an application by a mother for the revocation of adoption orders for her three children.
Dec 02, 2020

Children’s Commissioner for England hits out at number of extremely vulnerable children in unregulated settings

The Children’s Commissioner for England has expressed concern at evidence of a growing number of children who are locked up but who do not appear in any official statistics and who are not living in places designed to hold children securely.
Dec 02, 2020

MoJ to open three more ‘Nightingale’ courtrooms handling family cases at Westminster HQ

The Ministry of Justice is to open three additional ‘Nightingale' courtrooms at its headquarters that will handle family cases until summer 2021.
Dec 01, 2020

Charity hails amendment that means in-person contact to facilitate kinship care not prohibited by lockdown restrictions

The Family Rights Group, which last month sent a pre-action letter to the Department of Health and Social Care over the lack in lockdown restrictions of an exemption for children to meet potential kinship carers, has welcomed changes to new Covid regulations that come into force tomorrow (2 December).
Dec 01, 2020

Family President introduces requirement for court to notify Ofsted of unregistered placements where inherent jurisdiction used to authorise deprivation of liberty of child

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has amended the practice guidance he issued in November 2019 explaining the registration and regulation structure applicable in England and, separately, in Wales for residential care facilities for children and young people.
Nov 30, 2020

Court of Appeal highlights need for early legal advice where adoption placements near point of breakdown

The first reported occasion on which the courts have had to consider whether prospective adopters gave notice of their wish to return the child highlights the need for early legal advice, the Court of Appeal has said.
Nov 30, 2020

Cafcass to prioritise children most in need in South Yorkshire and Humber as caseloads soar in pandemic

Cafcass has made the decision to allocate only the highest priority work in South Yorkshire and Humber, amid concerns at a high number of open active cases, finite staffing capacity and staff absence relating to Covid-19.
Nov 26, 2020

Judge issues ruling on deprivation of liberty for boy with behavioural problems to cover move to new residential school

Mrs Justice Knowles has issued a short judgment explaining how she came to agree a deprivation of liberty order against a 14-year-old boy with behavioural problems who was to be moved to a residential school.
Nov 24, 2020

Court of Appeal rules Education Secretary acted unlawfully in failing to consult Children's Commissioner and others before relaxing safeguards for children in care during pandemic

The Education Secretary acted unlawfully by failing to consult the Children's Commissioner for England and other bodies representing the rights of children in care before introducing regulations that made a range of temporary amendments to ten statutory instruments governing the children's social care system, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Nov 24, 2020

Judge issues second ruling sharply criticising lack of suitable regulated placement for vulnerable 16-year-old woman with complex needs

A High Court judge has sent a second judgment in less than a month – this time “more in exasperated hope than expectation” – to the Children’s Commissioner for England, the Secretary of State for Education, the Minister for Children and others over the lack of regulated accommodation for vulnerable children.
Nov 23, 2020

Cafcass warns it is close to triggering prioritisation protocol after case rise in South Yorkshire and Humberside

Cafcass has warned that, following a rise in open active cases, it is close to triggering the use of its prioritisation protocol in the region that includes South Yorkshire and Humberside.
Nov 23, 2020

Coram Chambers names public law barristers as joint heads of chambers

Coram Chambers has appointed Mark Twomey QC and Alison Easton as its new Joint Heads of Chambers.
Nov 23, 2020

42 Bedford Row bolsters public law children and housing teams

42 Bedford Row has bolstered its public law children and housing teams with the arrival of two barristers.
Nov 20, 2020

Regulator of health and care professions to procure £5.9m legal services panel

The Health and Care Professions Council has given notice of its intention to procure a three-lot legal services panel worth an estimated £5.9m.


October 22, 2020

Children 'beyond parental control' and deprivations of liberty

Francesca Massarella reports on a case which considered when it is necessary to deprive a child’s liberty because they are ‘beyond parental control’ in the context of s.31(2) Children Act 1989.
September 24, 2020

Who decides who decides? Withdrawal of care proceedings

Where a local authority determines that the medical evidence falls short of proving that an injury to a child was deliberately inflicted, in what circumstances should it be allowed to withdraw its application? Laura Vickers reports.
September 24, 2020

Striking out failure to remove claims

Steven Ford QC, Andrea Ward and Joanne Kingsland report on a council's successful bid to secure a strike out, following the Supreme Court ruling in CN & GN v Poole, of a 'failure to remove' claim.
September 17, 2020

Public law children case update: contact, nationality and stays

Georgina Dalton summarises the latest public law children rulings, covering issues such as contact during care, changing the nationality of children in care, and practice on granting short-term stays.
September 03, 2020

Children in care and national identity

David Josty discusses a recent Court of Appeal ruling on the scope of a local authority's decision making in a relation to the national identity of a child in care.
August 27, 2020

Similar fact evidence in family proceedings

A mother recently won an appeal from a case management decision to exclude similar fact evidence in private family proceedings, ahead of a fact-finding hearing. The issues apply to public law cases as well, writes Hazel Samuriwo.
August 20, 2020

Child, mother, journalist – whose rights win out?

Matthew White analyses the first recorded High Court judgment concerning journalistic access to the court file in public law family proceedings.
August 20, 2020

Public law children case update: August 2020

Georgina Dalton summarises the latest Court of Appeal and High Court Family Division rulings, which cover issues such as regulated placements, the inherent jurisdiction and habitual residence, and a flawed hybrid hearing during the pandemic.
August 13, 2020

Contact with children in care: COVID-19

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that the ordinary principles governing applications for contact with children in care continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though outcomes may well be affected by the practical difficulties that are being faced. Hazel Samuriwo outlines the judgment.
July 30, 2020

One size fits all? Considering children law cases on their facts

A recent judgment of the Court of Appeal should serve as a reminder to practitioners in the field of Children Law that each case has to be considered on its peculiar facts and by reference, where applicable, to the welfare checklist in section 1 of the Children Act 1989 or the enhanced welfare checklist contained in section 1 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, writes Richard Alomo.
July 16, 2020

Failure to remove cases and assumption of responsibility

A court recently refused to strike out claim against social services for failure to remove a child at risk of abuse, even when that child a) was not in custody and b) there was no averment that social services had made matters worse. William Chapman explains why.
July 16, 2020

Religion and fostering

The High Court recently ruled that a Christian foster service must allow gay parents to sign up as carers. Aileen McColgan QC analyses the judgment.
July 10, 2020

Localism Act power does not enable a local authority to provide health services

In a recent judgment, The Hon. Mr Justice Mostyn described a claim that a local authority could provide tracheostomy care for a child pursuant to the general power of competence in s. 1 of the Localism Act 2011 as ‘misconceived’. Christine Cooper summarises the judgment.
July 07, 2020

Public Law Update: Forced Marriage

Patrick Gilmore talks about forced marriage and the recent decision of Re K, which is an important decision from the President of the Family Division.
July 03, 2020

The weight placed on local authority age assessments

An Upper Tribunal judge recently placed only limited weight placed on a local authority age assessment, and also provided guidance as to the reliability of social media evidence. Siân Davies sets out the key points from the ruling.
July 03, 2020

Children case law update: Assessments of risk of FGM, and hybrid contested hearings

Georgina Dalton reviews recent childcare rulings in relation to the family courts and previous assessments of risk of FGM, and on competing Article 6 and Article 8 rights in a hybrid contested hearing.
June 26, 2020

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.
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.