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Posts Tagged ‘cases’

On Monday Panorama showed a report on the journey through the family courts of a family accused of causing serious non-accidental injuries to their baby son: ‘Parents’ Child Abuse Nightmare’. After lengthy police investigation and care proceedings no prosecution was pursued and a finding of fact hearing exonerated the parents, the Judge holding that there was no cogent evidence that causation of the injuries was non-accidental.

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It was a shocking story, perhaps more so for those who do not work in the system and have not been caught up in it in respect of their own families. On another level, for care practitioners like myself it was however in many respects unremarkable – although the case broke new ground in respect of issues concerning publication of judgments and the identity of experts the care proceedings themselves raised familiar issues and followed a well worn path. What was unusual in terms of the care proceedings was the total failure of the Local Authority to make out threshold.

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There were several predictable references to the secrecy of the system, though the system was not so secret as to prevent the programme from being made. The fact that permission had been given for the proceedings to be reported did not appear to attenuate the hyperbole about the cloak and dagger approach of the courts (In fairness though, the lengths to which the parties and the BBC had to go to get permission were not insignificant as can be seen from the number of citations which follow at the end of this post). (more…)

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I don’t have time today to analyse this case in a full blog post but I did want to post a link to it. John Bolch at Family Lore has been able to provide a very helpful summary of it and links to the judgment.

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Surreal: Mr Hitler’s children removed by New Jersey Family Court. Thanks Popehat.

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The Family Justice Review is calling for written evidence by the end of September (see here). Anyone who is considering submitting a response should consider this: at the recent oral evidence session I attended with other lawyers, the panel were asking serious and reaching questions about the extent to which the courts needed to be involved in decisions about care planning. Suggestions were made that in our search efficiency we need to seriously scrutinise whether or not there is a need for judicial sanction along the whole process we currently know as ‘care proceedings’. Although there seemed to be an acceptance that court involvement could not be avoided insofar as there were disputes of fact, the need for judicial scrutiny of Local Authority decision making was not necessarily approached as immutable: the implication being that once threshold is proven to have been crossed decisions to removal of children from their families could become decisions of social services alone (or possibly of some yet to be created tribunal?).

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Take a deep breath and wait for the significance of that to dawn upon you. Yes. They are really considering leaving these decisions to The Man, without the safeguard of The Judge. The full horror of it may be evident to you and I, but it evidently raises crucially important questions that do not appear on the call for evidence list of questions – but which need to be answered explicitly, directly and forcefully. Those of us who believe in a Family Justice System clearly need to make the case at base level for judicial scrutiny of state intervention into families. It will be vitally important for those responding to the call for evidence to give their views about this very specific and fundamental issue rather than just answering the questions as posed. To get you thinking I will post something shortly on the question of ‘Why do we need care proceedings?’ which you will be at liberty to plagiarise, develop or denounce as you see fit. But I’m afraid that now is too late in the evening for me to contemplate embarking on that little beauty. It will have to wait…

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Essential reading for bloggers: Kaschke v Gray & Hilton [2010] EWHC 1907 (QB). Background on Jack of Kent blog. Long live the ‘not-worth-the-candle’-strike-out.

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Sign of the Times

Damn, I’ve just had to swallow my principles and subscribe to The Times online. Really needed to see something and couldn’t get to it without.

Your agent will report from the inside in due course…

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The Guardian posts an interesting piece about the Court of Protection and quite serious unlawful conduct by a Local Authority towards a vulnerable young man in their care: breach of right left right and centre and unlawful imprisonment. The Press Association understandably want to report on this and identify the Local Authority in question, but as with children proceedings they are prevented from doing so (albeit under a different legal framework). This affords the apparently rather badly behaved LA a certain – unwarranted – protection.

The article is here.

POST SCRIPT: HT to M Dodd for alerting me to the judgment permitting identification of the Local Authority as Manchester City Council. The Judgment is not yet available on Bailii, but you can download it here.

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