Re J (a child) EWCA Civ 222

Philcox Gray represented a father of a young child on a successful appeal against a Care Order and Placement Order for adoption.

McFarlane LJ gave guidance on the correct approach to be taken to the threshold criteria by local authorities. Aikens’ LJ view was that this case exhibited many of the shortcomings highlighted by the President of the Family Division in the recent case of Re A (a child) [2015] EWFC 11. Aikens LJ provided a clear summary of the fundamental principles underpinning care cases and in particular adoption cases, including:

  • In an adoption case, it is for the local authority to prove the facts on which it relies and, if adoption is ordered, to demonstrate that “nothing else will do”, when having regard to the overriding requirements of the child’s welfare;
  • If the local authority’s case on a factual issue is challenged, the local authority must adduce proper evidence to establish the fact it seeks to prove;
  • In attempting to establish that the threshold criteria have been met, the distinction between a fact and evidence alleged to prove a fact is fundamental and must be recognised;
  • The local authority must prove that there is the necessary link between the facts upon which it relies and its case on Threshold;
  • The State must not remove children from their parents’ care simply because facts are established of the parents ‘failings’, be it criminality, alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness or disability. The local authority must demonstrate, in the first instance, that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering significant harm by reason of one or more of those facts.

The case will now be re-heard.

To read the full judgment click here:

An interesting article regarding the case can be found on the Family Law Week website:   

At the hearing, the father was represented by Daisy Hughes of 1 Garden Court, instructed by Sheila Donn, Partner at Philcox Gray. Sheila Donn was assisted by Darren Francis and Poppy Bourke.

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