N (Children: Refusal of Placement Orders), Court of Appeal,  EWCA Civ 1652
A local authority, supported by the Children’s Guardian, appeals from the refusal of its application for placement orders in respect of children aged 2 and almost 4 who are presently in foster care. The Judge held that, despite many severe difficulties, it was better for the children to be returned to their mother under care orders, with restrictions on their father’s contact, than for them to be placed for adoption. The key issues are (a) whether there is any prospect of those restrictions being observed and, accordingly, whether the Judge should have refused to make placement orders and (b) having refused to make placement orders, whether the Judge should have made final or interim orders.
The court was concerned with 4 appeals from orders made in private law Children Act 1989 proceedings each of which involved allegations of domestic abuse. As well as deciding each of the appeals upon well-established legal principles, the court took the opportunity to give some guidance about a number of matters which commonly arise in the Family Court in such cases.
Application for summary return to Italy under the Hague Convention. Christopher secured the summary return of the child to the jurisdiction from which he was abducted. The Court gave guidance as to the applicability of Article 11(4) of B(II)R in cases which had commenced prior to the end, but concluded after the end, of the UK/EU withdrawal transition period.
Second judgment in the High Court whereby Judd J recognised the improvements, but then decline, the subject child made in their bespoke residential placement. The Court made a Care Order and authorised a further package of measures constituting a deprivation of the child’s liberty in light of recent difficulties
David’s successful appeal against a decision, of the Court’s own motion, by HHJ Wright at the CFC to transfer care proceedings to France under Brussels IIA, Article 15. He represented the Mother, who opposed the transfer. The Court of Appeal agreed with David, for a range of reasons, that the French Court was not better placed to hear the case and the transfer would not be in the best interests of the 13 year old boy, who was the subject of the proceedings. The Court also allowed the appeal on the basis that the Court below had not given sufficient notice to the parties it was contemplating the transfer, as required by FPR 12.64. In addition, the Court of Appeal gave important guidance on the proper use of Articles 55 and 56 of Brussels IIA.
Welfare decision of Mrs Justice Theis in protracted care proceedings following a successful appeal and re-hearing of the Fact-Finding Hearing in respect of four children. Despite reservations about whether the parents had been given a fair opportunity to avail themselves of support and intervention recommended in expert assessments, the Court concluded the proceedings by way of Care Orders
The High Court considered the Local Authority’s application for an order authorising the deprivation of a young person’s liberty, noting the lack of appropriate secure placements at a time of social emergency during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Chris acted for the father, who – together with the mother – sought to discharge the ICO and have the young person returned to the parents’ care. Judd J, noting the parents’ anguish, nevertheless concluded that the young person’s safety required that they be made subject to a DOL order