A judge is at liberty to depart from the Local Authority threshold document in making findings of fact against a parent, including a finding of a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour, so long as a parent has a reasonable opportunity to put his case on any additional matters and there is procedural fairness. The further the findings of fact deviate from the threshold document the more caution must be shown in ensuring fairness to the parent.
An appeal by the mother against an order for summary return was granted because the judge at first instance failed to give reasons for his finding that the child would not be at risk of grave harm despite a video of the father making threats to kill the child and the mother making allegations of the father threatening to kill her and her children during episodes of heavy drinking.
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.
In this ground-breaking case, a Part III MFPA 1984 claim was founded solely on an interest in a matrimonial home in the jurisdiction.
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