Care appeal allowed due to ‘scant’ judgement

Children|September 18th 2014

A couple’s appeal against care and placement orders for two of their three children has been allowed as the original judgement was deemed too “scant”.

In Re N-D, the family in question originally came from Zimbabwe but settled in the UK 11 years ago after claiming asylum. They had three children – a teenager referred to in the judgement as ‘B’, who is now 15, his younger sister, ‘A’, who is just four, and ‘D’, a toddler aged 19 months.

B had been raised back in Zimbabwe by his grandmother and only came to live with the family in late 2010. Last year, he was seriously assaulted by his parents in a “violent, sustained attack” and forced to flee the family home through a window. A doctor who examined him commented on the severity of the boy’s injuries.

The violence, described as “uncontrolled rage”, was instigated by the mother but largely carried out by the father.

The parents were convicted after a Crown Court hearing and the father was sent to prison The mother, however, only received a suspended sentence.

B was placed with foster carers. Meanwhile, care and placement orders were also made for the younger children, giving the local authority permission to take the children into care and place them with prospective adopters.

The parents were given permission to appeal these orders on the basis of the judge’s ruling. Sitting at the Court of Appeal in London, Lord Justice Ryder said it had no contained proper consideration of A and D’s welfare, as required by sections 1(3)(e) and 31 of the Children Act 1989.

The former section states that courts “shall have regard in particular to” a number of key factors in the welfare of children, including

“(e)any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering”

Section 31, meanwhile, sets out the necessary arrangements for care and supervision orders.

Lord Justice Ryder said:

“Given that this was a six day hearing before an experienced specialist circuit judge and that the judgment was reserved for a month, the scant nature of the four and a half page judgment is unacceptable.”

He stressed that parties to a case are entitled to know the basis on which a court has reached its decisions and noted that the parents’ appeal in this case had caused “inevitable delay and considerable expense”.

The care and placemen t orders issued for A and D were set aside and the case was sent back to the lower courts for a rehearing.

Appeals against care and placement orders are sometimes successful. In July, a Welsh grandmother also won the right to a rehearing after a borough council pressed ahead with plans to adopt her granddaughter.

Read the full judgement here.

Photo by comedy_nose via Flickr

Author: Stowe Family Law

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