I want to challenge the care order – Appeals and Discharge of order

If you want to challenge a placement or an adoption order, have a look at where we discuss placement and adoption orders, where there is some brief discussion of your options. It is very difficult to successfully oppose these orders. There is a useful article here by suesspicious minds. 

It is probably going to be difficult to get any help with paying for legal representation to make these applications; unlike the actual care proceedings there is no automatic legal aid. You may find this post helpful; What if I don’t have a Lawyer?

 

I am not happy with the care order

What’s the difference between appealing and applying to discharge an order?

We will deal first with the issue of appeals, and then consider applications to discharge the care order.

  • If you want to appeal against an order you are saying you think the order itself is wrong, it should not have been made and the judge got in wrong, either about the facts or the way he applied the law to the facts.
  • If you apply to discharge an order, you are saying that the reason why the order was made in the first place no longer applies so the order shouldn’t continue.

I want to appeal

After the final hearing has concluded the Judge will either read out his/her decision or provide you with a written judgment. The Magistrates must always produce written reasons for their decisions.

Can a Judge change his/her mind?

The Supreme Court held in the case of re K-L (Children) [2015] that judges have power to reverse their decisions at any time before the order is ‘drawn up’ (i.e. sealed with a court stamp). There does not need to be exceptional circumstances for a judge to do this; there is an overriding objective to deal with the case justly.

But if the Judge won’t change his/her judgment, you will have to consider an appeal.

As soon as you can after judgment

Immediately after judgment has been delivered, if there is anything you are not happy about or think the Judge has got wrong, you should bring it to his/her attention immediately. The Judge can make minor amendments there and then or provide further reasons if you are not sure why   he/she has made that decision. If you don’t alert the Judge to these issues quickly, you could find yourself criticised later on – as Arden LJ said in the case of Re T (Contact: Alienation: Permission to Appeal) [2002] EWCA Civ 1736:

It would be unsatisfactory to use an omission by a judge to deal with a point in a judgment as an application for appeal if the matter has not been brought to the judge’s attention when there was a ready opportunity to do so. Unnecessary costs and delay may result.

If it is something which can be corrected quickly – such as getting the spelling of a name wrong or recording an incorrect date – and it is not something which has a huge impact on the Judge’s decision, it can be corrected there and then. However, if you think there are much more serious problems with the judgment you may want to consider an appeal.

If you are legally represented, discuss this with your lawyer and see what he/she says about the prospects of appealing. Time limits are short so you need to move quickly.

How do I appeal against an order?

This can be quite complicated.

The ‘appeal court’ that will consider your application will depend on which kind of judge you want to appeal.  You will only go straight to the actual Court of Appeal if you want to appeal the decision of a Circuit Judge. See the judiciary.gov website for an explanation about the different kinds of Judges. A lot of care proceedings are heard in front of District Judges – any application for permission to appeal their decisions will go to the Circuit Judge.

The Court of Appeal operates under a different set of rules to that applying to the Family Court and the Family Division of the High Court – the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) as opposed to the Family Procedure Rules (FPR). And the usual position is that hearings in the Court of Appeal are held in open court. See further this post from the Transparency Project – High Court appeals to be heard in open court?

See Part 30 of the Family Procedure Rules and Practice Direction 30A

As well as getting any necessary permission to appeal you will also need to consider the following important practical issues:

  • do you have or can you get a written note of the judgement and/or evidence given (a ‘transcript);
  • are you aware of the time limits and can you stick to them?  you can try to appeal later but there is no guarantee the court will allow this; its always best to get things in on time.
  • you will need to think about what you are going to put in writing about why you want to appeal.

Permission to appeal

If you are before the Magistrates, you don’t need permission to appeal. Your appeal will be heard before a Judge of Circuit Judge level or High Court level if its thought your appeal raises an important point of principle.

If you are in front of any other kind of judge such as a District Judge or a Circuit Judge you will need permission to appeal – either from the Judge at the final hearing or from the appeal court when you make your application. You should ask the Judge at the time for permission to appeal. If he/she refuses, you need to make an application for permission from the relevant appeal court.

There have been some important changes made to the Civil Procedure Rules which apply to permission to appeal in family cases.  The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.3) Rules 2016 come into force on the 3rd October 2016.  The relevant date to see if the new rules apply to your case is NOT the date of your judgment but the date of your notice to appeal.

The rules introduce a new Part 52. The rules have been changed to try and deal with the back log of work the Court of Appeal now faces, given the rise in litigants in person who are appealing. You used to have an automatic right to request an oral hearing for permission to appeal, if your first request in writing was rejected. This has now changed. Your application for permission to appeal will be decided on your written application unless the court decides this would not be fair, and it needs to hear further argument.

What is the test to decide if I will get permission to appeal?

Note the distinction between ‘first’ and ‘second’ appeals. Under Part 52.6, if this is your first appeal, permission to appeal will only be given where:

  • the court considers that the appeal would have a real prospect of success; or
  • there is some other compelling reason for the appeal to be heard.

The court can also limit the issues that are going to be heard on giving permission.

If you are now applying to the Court of Appeal for permission to make a ‘second appeal’ – that is, of a decision you have already appealed to another lower Judge, permission will only be given if the Court of Appeal decide that your appeal would:

  • have a real prospect of success; and
  • raise an important point of principle or practice; or
  • there is some other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear it.

Applying for permission to appeal to a Circuit Judge or in the High Court.

You can request an oral hearing but the Judge dealing with your written application can decide that your application is totally without merit and can make an order preventing any further oral oral hearing.  See Part 52.4 (3).

Your only option would be to apply for judicial review of the Judge’s refusal to grant you permission to appeal, but the circumstances would need to be ‘exceptional’.

Do I need a transcript of the Judge’s decision or the evidence given at court?

The Judge’s decision

See paras 5.23 – 5.25 of the Practice Direction with regard to transcripts of the Judge’s decision.

If the court has officially recorded the judgment, you should send an approved copy of that transcript with the appellant’s notice (see below – basically, the document where you set out why you think your appeal should succeed).

If there is no officially recorded judgment, you can use the following documents:

  • Written judgments – where a decision is made by a lay justice or justices in the family court, a copy of the written reasons for the court’s decision.
  • Written reasons – in a magistrates’ court, a copy of the written reasons for the courts decision.
  • Note of judgment – when judgment was not officially recorded or made in writing a note of the judgment (agreed between the appellant’s and respondent’s advocates) should be submitted for approval to the judge whose decision is being appealed. If the parties cannot agree on a single note of the judgment, both versions should be provided to that judge with an explanatory letter. For the purpose of an application for permission to appeal the note need not be approved by the respondent or the lower court judge.
  • Advocates’ notes of judgments where the appellant is unrepresented – When the appellant was unrepresented in the lower court it is the duty of any advocate for the respondent to make the advocate’s note of judgment promptly available, free of charge to the appellant where there is no officially recorded judgment or if the court so directs. Where the appellant was represented in the lower court it is the duty of the appellant’s own former advocate to make that advocate’s note available in these circumstances. The appellant should submit the note of judgment to the appeal court.

What if I can’t get a transcript quickly enough?

If you can’t get hold of a transcript within the time limits for sending your appellant’s notice to the court, you will have to complete the appellant’s notice to the best of your ability on the basis of the information that you have got in front of you. You are allowed to make amendments later on if the court gives you permission. See rule 30.9 – Amendment of appeal notice. 

Transcripts of evidence

See para 5.31 -5.34 of the Practice Direction with regard to transcripts of the evidence.

If this is evidence that is relevant to the appeal you will need an official transcript of the relevant evidence. If there was no official recording, you will need a typed version of the Judge’s or magistrates’ clerk’s notes. If you can’t afford to pay for these notes to be transcribed the court can order that they are provided at the public expense. You should ask for this order when you ask for permission to appeal if you are worried about paying for the costs of a transcript. 

See also the case of Re W (Children) in 2014 where Jackson LJ commented:

From time to time when this court grants permission to appeal, it directs that the evidence of a particular witness be obtained. If the appeal concerns the adoption of children, it is by definition an urgent matter and the hearing will be listed at an early date. Indeed, as here, the court granting permission to appeal may direct an expedited hearing.

In such a case, the parties must use their best endeavours to obtain any transcript of evidence which is required as soon as possible. If, as here, the transcript cannot be obtained in time, then solicitors and counsel should co operate in producing a composite note of the relevant evidence.

Time limits are really important

21 days to appeal – Appellant’s notice Rule 30.4

You will have to send your appellant’s notice to the appeal court within 21 days of the date of decision you are appealing unless the first court decides you should do this more quickly, or gives you more time.

BUT if you are appealing against a case management decision or an order for an interim care/supervision order under section 38(1) of the Children Act 1989 you have only SEVEN DAYS.

You then have to send a copy of your appellant’s notice to the other parties in your case.

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed in Re H (Children) that it is ‘exceptional’ to get permission to appeal late given the importance of making speedy decisions in cases involving children.

What must I include in my appellants notice?

Rule 30.6 – your grounds of appeal; what are the reasons you say the judge got it wrong. Are you saying that the Judge ignored relevant evidence? Or relied on things that were untrue?

What can the appeal court do? Rule 30.11

Once you have got permission to appeal and made your application, what can you expect from the appeal court? There are a variety of possible outcomes. The appeal court could:

  • agree with the order of the first court; or
  • set aside or vary any order or judgment from the court below; or
  • Refer any application or issue for determination by lower court; or
  • Order a new hearing; or
  • Make orders for payment of interest; or
  • Make a costs order.

An appeal is limited to a review of the decision of the lower court UNLESS the appeal court decides the interests of justice require a re-hearing.

Can I bring any new evidence before the appeal court?

Generally, no. The appeal court will not be keen on hearing new evidence, either spoken or in writing  unless you have some very good reasons why that evidence hadn’t been available to the first court.

Permission to appeal is granted – Will my appeal be successful?

Rule 30.12 (3) of The Family Procedure Rules 2010 reads as follows: ‘The appeal court will allow an appeal where the decision of the lower court was:

  • (a) wrong; or
  • (b) unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity in the proceedings in the lower court’.

Thorpe LJ set out the ‘essential test’ in Re B (Appeal: Lack of Reasons) [2003] EWCA Civ 881:

….does the judgment sufficiently explain what the judge has found and what he has concluded as well as the process of reasoning by which he has arrived at his findings and then his conclusions.

The Supreme Court considered the nature of appeals against care orders in Re B in 2013. This is a very important decision in relation to the role of the appellate court in cases that involve the making of care orders.

The decision of a Judge as to whether or not the threshold is crossed in a particular case is an exercise of that judge’s discretion. The next decision is what kind of order should be made, once threshold is crossed. That is both an exercise of the judge’s discretion and imposes an obligation upon him or her to make a decision that is proportionate and thus compliant with Article 8 of the ECHR.

It was a unanimous decision that the test to be applied by the appeal court is whether or not the decision below was ‘wrong’.

For an example of where a Judge got it very, very wrong – by making final care orders at a Case Management hearing – see the case of Re S-W (Children) EWCA Civ 27 in 2015.

The Judge is likely to have got it wrong if he or she:

  • relied on something that was irrelevant;
  • failed to consider a relevant matter
  • made a mistake about the law;
  • applied the wrong principle;
  • failed to give adequate reasons for his/her decision.

Procedural irregularites

Even if the Judge’s decision was not considered ‘wrong’ the appeal court might be sufficiently concerned about ‘procedural irregularities’ – problems in the trial process, such as inexcusable delay –  that could make a decision unjust and thus lead to a successful appeal.  See MacFarlane LJ in A (A Child) 2013 at para 77:

Drawing matters together, whilst I do not conclude that the outcome ordered by the judge is, of itself, wrong and therefore to be set aside, I am sufficiently concerned about the process of these proceedings as a whole, which I have held has violated the Art 8 rights of both M and her father, and also by the deficits in the judge’s analysis which I have now identified, to conclude, in the words of CPR, r 52(11)(3), that the outcome is ‘unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity’. For the previous systemic failure to end in a hearing which itself was highly unsatisfactory and where the judge has failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough analysis, makes it almost inevitable that this court will consider that it has a duty to intervene with the aim of establishing an effective and full rehearing.

You should also keep in mind the following considerations:

  • The appeal court should NOT interfere with the first court’s decision, just because it would have made a different decision. It should only interfere if that decision is ‘wrong’.
  • The appeal court will also remind itself that the first judge had a significant advantage in that he/she got to see and hear the parties give evidence and is thus in a much better position than the appeal court to assess the strength of that evidence.
  • Just because a judgement is short doesn’t make it automatically suspect. The more experienced a judge, the more likely he or she can express the reasoning process shortly.

My appeal is successful – should the court order a re-hearing?

The case of B (A child) [2014] looked at the issue of whether or not a successful appeal should lead to a re-hearing or the appeal court substituting their own decision. The question is – can the appeal court put the mistake right? Or is the mistake too big and we need to start again? The court considered this issue at paras 29 -32 of the judgment:

I have come to the following conclusion about the question asked of us. On an appellate review the judge’s first task is to identify the error of fact, value judgment or law sufficient to permit the appellate court to interfere. In public law family proceedings there is always a value judgment to be performed which is the comparative welfare analysis and the proportionality evaluation of the interference that the proposed order represents and accordingly there is a review to be undertaken about whether that judgment is right or wrong. Armed with the error identified, the judge then has a discretionary decision to make whether to re-make the decision complained of or remit the proceedings for a re-hearing. The judge has the power to fill gaps in the reasoning of the first court and give additional reasons in the same way that is permitted to an appeal court when a Respondent’s Notice has been filed. In the exercise of its discretion the court must keep firmly in mind the procedural protections provided by the Rules and Practice Directions of both the appeal court and the first court so that the process which follows is procedurally regular, that is fair.
If in its consideration of the evidence that existed before the first court, any additional evidence that the appeal court gives permission to be adduced and the reasons of the first court, the appeal court decides that the error identified is sufficiently discrete that it can be corrected or the decision re-made without procedural irregularity then the appeal court may be able to rectify the error by a procedurally fair process leading to the same determination as the first court. In such a circumstance, the order remains the same, the reasoning leading to the order has been added to or re-formulated but based on the evidence that exists and the appeal would be properly dismissed.
If the appeal court is faced with a lack of reasoning it is unlikely that the process I have described will be appropriate, although it has to be borne in mind that the appeal court should look for substance not form and that the essence of the reasoning may be plainly obvious or be available from reading the judgment or reasons as a whole. If the question to be decided is a key question upon which the decision ultimately rests and that question has not been answered and in particular if evidence is missing or the credibility and reliability of witnesses already heard by the first court but not the appeal court is in issue, then it is likely that the proceedings will need to be remitted to be re-heard. If that re-hearing can be before the judge who has undertaken the appeal hearing, that judge needs to acknowledge that a full re-hearing is a separate process from the appeal and that the power to embark on the same is contingent upon the appeal being allowed, the orders of the first court being set aside and a direction being made for the re-hearing. In any event, the re-hearing may require further case management.
The two part consideration to be undertaken by a family appeal court is heavily fact dependent. I cannot stress enough that what might be appropriate in one appeal on one set of facts might be inappropriate in another. It would be unhelpful of this court to do other than to highlight the considerations that ought to be borne in mind.

There is a useful article about this case by suesspiciousminds here.

 

Discharge of the care order – My situation has changed

If some time has passed since the judgment – months, rather than weeks – and you think you can show that your situation has changed for the better, you can apply to discharge the care order.

Section 26 of the Children Act 1989 says there must be regular case reviews for all Looked After Children (the LAC Review) which will include getting the views of the parents and children. One item to be considered every six months is whether or not the LA should apply to the court for a discharge of the care order: see the Review of Children’s Cases Regulations 1991 (SI 1991 No. 895).

Every local authority must also establish a procedure for considering representations, including complaints, made to it by any child who is being looked after by it, or by his parents, about the discharge by the authority of its parental responsibilities for the child.

The application for discharge of a care order is dealt with at  section 39 of the Children Act 1989:

Discharge and variation etc. of care orders and supervision orders.

(1) A care order may be discharged by the court on the application of—
(a) any person who has parental responsibility for the child;
(b) the child himself; or
(c) the local authority designated by the order.
(2) A supervision order may be varied or discharged by the court on the application of—
(a) any person who has parental responsibility for the child;
(b) the child himself; or
(c) the supervisor.

If the court does not think your application has any merit, it can dismiss it quickly – see the case of A-Z v Birmingham City Council in 2013. The father had had no contact with any of his children for at least 18 months and the court concluded there was no prospect that their current placements would be disrupted.

See also the case of X (Discharge of care order [2014] EWFC.

 

Procedure to apply for a discharge of the care order

You will apply on Form C110A with copies for each respondent, which is every person you think has parental responsibility for the child under a child arrangements order before the care order was granted, the child, the parties to the original care proceedings. Other people must be given notice of the proceedings, including the LA who is providing accommodation for the child and anyone who is caring for the child at the time you make the application.

See also the FPR Practice Direction 5A and 12A.

On filing your application with the court, the Public Law Outline timetable starts running so the application must be completed in 26 weeks.

 

Recent Cases on discharging a care order

For a recent authority when the court looked at discharging a care order see X (Discharge of care order) [2014]. The Judge was very concerned in this case by the failures of the LA. The court emphasised that it was important to look at the question of whether or not it was proportionate for a care order to continue. Suesspiciousminds has commented on this case here.

 

Particular problems for litigants in person

Appealing as a litigant in person

It is difficult to get public funding to make an appeal and some people may have to consider making an application without a lawyer.  You may have to pay a fee to get the court to issue your application – there is information about this on the government website.

Also see their leaflet – Court and Tribunal Fees – Do I have to pay them?. You don’t have to pay if you are receiving the following benefits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit with gross annual earnings of less than £6,000
  • State Pension Credit – Guarantee Credit
  • Scottish Civil Legal Aid (not Advice and Assistance or Advice by Way of Representation)

 

The courts are alive to the difficulties this may cause – see the case of  R (a Child) [2014]

6. This case is illustrative of an increasing problem faced by this court. More and more litigants appear in front of us in person. Where, as here, the appellant is unrepresented, this requires all those involved in the appeal process to take on burdens that they would not normally have to bear. The court office finds itself having to attempt to make sure that the parties to the litigation are notified of the appeal because litigants in person do not always know who should be served; the only respondent named by M here was LA. The bundles that the court requires in order to determine the appeal are often not provided by the litigant, or are incomplete, and proper papers have to be assembled by the court, not infrequently at the request of the judges allocated to hear the case when they embark upon their preparation for the hearing just days before it is due to start. The grounds of appeal that can properly be advanced have to be identified by the judge hearing the permission application and the arguments in support of them may have to be pinpointed by the court hearing the appeal.

7. The court has no extra resources to respond to these added challenges. It needs to be understood that the file from the lower court is not available to the appeal court which is dependent on the papers supplied for the appeal by the parties. If it is to be able to deal properly with an appeal in care proceedings, and to do so speedily (as most local authorities require so that undue delay is avoided for the children who are the subject of the proceedings), then local authorities will have to expect to assist by ensuring that the court is provided with appeal bundles. Three copies of the appeal bundles are normally required, unless the appeal is ordered to be heard by two judges in which case only two copies need be supplied. The bundles will often have to include the documentation that was available to the court below, although there can be appeals in which the issue is so discrete that a more limited selection of papers will suffice. It is so frequently the case that the papers supplied by the appellant are deficient that it should be standard practice for the local authority to take steps itself, well in advance of the hearing, to consider the appellant’s proposed bundle and, if it is deficient or apparently non-existent, to contact the court to see whether it is necessary to supply alternative or supplementary bundles.

 

64 thoughts on “I want to challenge the care order – Appeals and Discharge of order

  1. sam

    Please may you , if possible broadly outline ,the circumstances in which legal aid should be available to discharge a care order? I tried the on-line calculator but it appears to expect you to let some one ring you back rather than giving a decision. Have I got the wrong one?
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I am afraid I don’t have much of a clue, save that I know this kind of application will be judged on how likely or not it is to succeed (unlike the care proceedings themselves which are non-means and non-merits tested). So that makes it much more difficult to get funding. But I will ask some of my solicitor contacts if they have any info.

      Reply
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  4. Maya

    Hi Sarah, I am totally unsure about which form to fill out to discharge the care order? The information appears really scanty. Any suggestions? Thanks, Maya

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Good old Red Book – page 198 it says that you fill in Form C110A with sufficient copies for each Respondent. the La must send a copy of the application form and annex docs to Cafcass

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        And that is why I couldn’t find it on the government site as C110A is simply listed as the form to APPLY for a care order. I can see why this is so confusing 

        Reply
  5. Sam

    Firstly the form C110A is to apply for a care order , unless it has changed again the correct form to discharge is C100 . No Angelo I don’t know any more than Sarah said about whether a parent will be eligible for legal aid.

    Reply
  6. Angelo Granda

    Thanks ,Sam. Yes ,you are right.
    My idea is that seeing as the civil family court orders sanctions in excess of any which can normally be ordered by a Crown Court ( e.g. the permanent liquidation of a family) then citizens should have appropriate appeal facilities. There have to be additional safeguards against miscarriages of justice.
    Appeals to be automatic just as they are against a death sentence or life imprisonment. So such serious cases should either be passed from the family court to a higher court or the protocol changed at the family court to allow for it. No application for permission to appeal necessary.
    I have also suggested before that when LA’s bring proceedings against families in the family court it has considerable advantages . It has all the power of the finances which we provide them. Thus the balance of power will be evened out to a degree were it forced also to finance the respondent’s legal representation from its budget.
    I believe that is what happens at Courts Martial. The military authorities finance the prosecution and the defence.
    Unfortunately the matter of automatic appeals does not seem to be on anyone’s agenda but mine.

    The problem is that ,the current system relies to a large extent on the fact that it is so hard to get permission to appeal ( especially when there is such a short time limit ).
    Also, even when there are some grounds for an appeal, the respondent barrister cannot appeal anyway because of the legal funding obstacle.

    Reply
  7. Sarah Phillimore

    There cannot be automatic appeals in care cases because the system – already creaking – would collapse.
    Perhaps you would like to respond to this consultation https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/appeals-to-the-coa-proposed-amendments-to-cpr-cprc-outline.pdf

    This proposes making it even more difficult to bring an appeal, because the Court of Appeal is currently suffering a massive backlog of cases. If you were to increase the number of cases before them, the consequences are obvious.

    I am afraid, that without quadrupling the funds available to pay for judges and court rooms, things are only going to get worse, not better. There simply aren’t enough Judges available to hear all the existing appeals, let alone the massive increased numbers that would flow from automatic appeals.

    Nor do I think automatic appeals are needed. In my clear experience, the majority of cases in which I am involved are not remotely miscarriages of justice. Rather, my complaint is that the LA has waited far too long before taking decisive action and a child has been left to suffer significant harm for many months, if not years.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      O.K. Let me replace the word ‘shock’ by the two words ‘stress’ and ‘strain’ if you think it is simple physics and a rickety, wooden system close to collapse.
      Are we to continue using the bridge which is unfit for purpose or are we to act radically and construct a new one?

      I like to think I am constructive and I am always loath to criticise professionals supposedly better educated than I. Yet I cannot but criticise when they seem not to understand basic human philosophy – its simple justice.

      Do our barristers and Queen’s Counsel fully understand their roles in the grand scheme of things? Do they fully understand the meaning of the terms truth, honour and justice?

      When barristers continually appear to compromise the administration of the Queen’s justice referring to questions of the creaking system, case backlogs, the need for increased funds, shortage of judge’s etc. they do lack understanding, in my humble view.
      They are making excuses.
      I wonder if they really understand what the misuse of power and oppression actually means and how the misuse manifests itself into injustice, inhumanity and cruelty to mankind. They should study the simple legend of Robin Hood.
      Forced austerity upon the helpless and vulnerable, taxes, accumulation of vast fortunes by the strong at the cost of happiness to the weak is nothing new. Tyranny and abuse of power by those above us is never-ending which is why in the 13th century, the King’s justice and the rule of law had to be stamped upon society after a massive power struggle between the people and their oppressors.
      Money, funding, riches, wealth, massive fortunes or whatever you choose to call them are what the justice system was set up to overcome. To enforce justice, it is the duty of the justices to set themselves above all the budgetary and financial interests put before them. Actually, the only thing that will attain justice is to make the authorities hand over the money and pay for it. That is what they really fear, having their power and wealth taken away from them and to be forced to spend it on supporting ordinary families. They have other unjust uses for it.
      The second principle of justice, in my view, which also appears to pass our current, rickety justice system by, is the need for dispensing justice against everybody not only the ordinary citizen. When parents make allegations against public officials, the allegations cannot be dismissed summarily on the grounds of theories which say they are likely to have invented a false narrative. The allegations should be investigated thoroughly and all the facts and statements put before a proper court. We should also note that the real tyrants usually have servants to carry out their excesses and that those servants inevitably become cruel and abusive in their own rights. However, the real misuse of power emanates from the very top.
      I apologise in advance for this screed if readers in general find it irrelevant to present day life and times, especially to those barristers who do understand justice fully. Let them discount it if they wish.
      Nevertheless, this is one parents view and I hope it will be of some interest to other parents.

      Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        But you weren’t talking about constructing a new bridge – you were simply saying you wanted to drive more traffic across it by creating an automatic right of appeal.

        When I say ‘there are not enough judges to hear the cases before them in good time’ – which bit is that me ‘making excuses’ ?

        Lets try a simple example. A judge works 5 hours a day in court (and probably many more hours outside reading and writing judgments). A case takes on average – let’s say – 2 hours to hear in court. On Monday this Judge has five cases listed in front of him. How many do you think he will be able to finish?

        I am baffled as to why you think this very obvious and simple truth is anyone ‘making excuses’. It is rather a description of a system that cannot cope with the work it is expected to process. The one solution to the dilemma above is to provide another Judge and another court room so that the work load can be shared and the cases will be heard – and justice will be done.

        Justice delayed is after all, justice denied.

        Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          I would change the system radically ( build a new bridge) and the changes would include the automatic appeals in serious cases and changes to the standards of proof. Any element for reasonable doubt would mean no order should be made,if i had my way. I think there is too much reasonable doubt allowed in civil courts at present. Too lessen doubts and to remove any possibility of abuse by any party, strict observance of legal guidance should be enforced.

          Sarah, my opinion is that it is H.M. Government’s duty to ensure there are plenty courts and plenty judges . You should not have to worry about supply and financial issues like that. It is not honourable that justice should depend on money available.You have already said in one of your posts about planned government policy that it can expect a battle with the judiciary if it attempts to implement it ( i can’t find the exact post just now) and i think this is one of the issues which you should battle against.
          Surely justice depends on courts being available to hear cases.
          What better way is there to impose injustice than by making access to court difficult especially for appeals? What better way to impose summary justice( Judge Jeffery’s style) than to cut to the bone court time and length of hearings?
          The only reason i keep making these suggestions is that i want to make readers realise that more radical improvements are called for to restore Public confidence in the system.

          Reply
  8. Angelo Granda

    I think it unrealistic to allow for automatic appeals in the majority of care cases too. I agree on that score.
    The civil court appeal system would break down,yes,the shock would be far too much for it; the change too radical.
    I am only referring to really dire cases where the circumstances are so serious that permanence plans and adoption are contemplated or have been ordered.
    Tighten up on permission to appeal in minor civil cases especially those which are not Family Court hearings,by all means. I will agree with that. Don’t waste the Court’s time.Leave Judges free to hear serious case appeals.
    Radical change to the Family Court system is needed,in my opinion. No more pussyfooting around.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      They would not break down due to ‘shock’.
      They would break down because they have only X number of judges hearing Y number of cases and already, they can’t cope.
      If you increase ‘Y’ ten fold but do not increase X, the system will break in the same way that a rickety wooden bridge will collapse if you attempt to drive an HGV over it.
      It isn’t due to ‘shock’ about radical change – its simple physics.

      Reply
  9. Sam

    Rather than more appeals I would ask for an independent body run by experienced professionals to scrutinise alleged miscarriages of justice within care cases. Yes I know it’s money but as I have pointed out the cost not only of keeping a child in care , the subsequent mental and physical health problems in adult life are a drain on society. Also bearing in mind taking a child from a parent is the worst punishment the state can inflict since the abolition of capital punishment. Though of course a significant number of parents do choose suicide as the only way out of their misery. Then desperate parents would not turn to dubious Mckenzie friends .

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I agree that something akin to the Criminal Review body would be useful. So the difficult cases would have somewhere to go.

      Reply
  10. Angelo Granda

    It does not matter how many independent bodies of professionals,complaints committees,inspectorates ,press, t.v.,Police or Uncle Tom Cobbly and all review cases and find against the Local Authority, the department will not come clean,acknowledge concerns and change.
    If parents feel their cases are conducted unlawfully and wrongly IN ANY WAY,the only remedy is an appeal to a higher court.
    It is my view that were appeals granted automatically as a right in serious cases not only would it stop miscarriages of justice going through ,it would also lead to a massive decrease in appeals for the high court to deal with not more.
    Once the right is granted and a couple of test cases based on procedural irregularities and/or false evidence ( or perjury) were to go through, the LA would be forced to change its practices and conduct all cases correctly. Injustices will be less likely to occur and Public trust would be restored.
    After the debacle of the 1980’s false sex abuse and witchcraft allegations,when an enquiry condemned the system and the standards of evidence used, the law was rewritten and the Children’s Act 1989 was instituted. At that time, the CS was instructed to review all of its similar past cases and to take reparatory action. When it came down to it, it did no such thing.It undertook the reviews behind closed doors without even inviting parents,children or their representatives to take part.The ‘reviews’ were peremptory and very little was done to correct previous wrongs. Very few children were sent home. The Authorities just cannot be trusted. Appeals should have been granted automatically then.

    Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        I think you were right first time. I don’t know the word ‘reparitive’.

        Reply
  11. Sam

    I still do not understand why Angelo thinks a higher court will necessarily come to a correct decision. They may have potentially false evidence from the LA placed before them and they only have the same balance of probabilities to work to. In addition the appeal judge will give weight to the original judge having heard oral evidence from the parents.
    Personally I think efforts should be concentrated on making sure pre proceedings are lawful and helpful.

    Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      QUOTE: Once the right is granted and a couple of test cases based on procedural irregularities and/or false evidence ( or perjury) were to go through, the LA would be forced to change its practices and conduct all cases correctly. Injustices will be less likely to occur and Public trust would be restored : UNQUOTE

      Sam, If parents were to be granted an automatic appeal when serious cases are not conducted correctly pre-proceedings or in the courtroom resulting in potentially false evidence, that will compel the LA to follow the rules. What better way can there be of concentrating on making sure proceedings are lawful and helpful? I hope you can understand it now. Also when cases are conducted properly pre-proceedings less of them will go to court and there will be less pressure on court time.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        QUOTE : After the debacle of the 1980’s false sex abuse and witchcraft allegations,when an enquiry condemned the system and the standards of evidence used, the law was rewritten and the Children’s Act 1989 was instituted : UNQUOTE

        Sam, The cases during the seventies and eighties to which i refer concerned allegations that children had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of parents. There wasn’t usually any physical evidence of it at all but the ‘proof’ depended on the flawed evidence of one child psychologist who instructed the SW’s to question children , make suggestions , and encourage them to talk freely. The psychologists themselves also used the same tactics.The children were also given male and female biological dolls to play with during the interviews.
        After the enquiry, the methods used were discredited by other psychologists and the practice of relying on the evidence of ONE expert psychological witness was outlawed.

        This has relevance to your complaint that cases these days should not rely on the assessment of one psychologist but that a second opinion should be permitted.

        Reply
      2. Sam

        There are cases that go to a higher court , test cases that become case law. This does not stop the less scrupulous LA’s keeping to their same practices especially if the local court tends to rubber stamp care applications. For instance I was told by an insider that the judges at my local court do not give a damn about human rights of parents. I am sure you have as I have seen cases very similar to our own where a care order has not been granted or the case has been successful at appeal. I am afraid once humans are involved there are no definite outcomes. It is not nice but it is reality.
        I really do understand your frustration. Maybe if you have fresh evidence in your case it may be worth trying an out of time appeal, but I would do so before the practice direction consultation is finished as there may be an even higher hurdle to jump.

        Reply
        1. Angelo Granda

          Sam,i am not talking about my case.
          The reason why ,apparently , rules and laws are ignored is because precedent is not ‘trickling through’ to the lower courts.
          In my opinion that is not good enough.
          Nor is it ‘trickling through’ to the LA’s. Rather than go with it ,the LA’s deliberately paddle against the flow . It either ignores the rules or aligns itself with new initiatives which will turn back the flow.
          Full blown appeals are heard before three high court judges at the Court of Appeal.The original Judge’s permission is not required whether he or she has a wig on or not.

          Reply
    2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Exactly. An ounce of prevention better than a pound of cure. Once case has started off down wrong track, it is very, very difficult to get it back.

      Reply
  12. Sam

    Angelo
    If you read the link to the document the Court of Appeal simply are overwhelmed and trying to cut down on appeals. More cases will be decided on paper. Once again correct me if I am wrong Sarah but a considerable amount of this type of work is actually prepared by lawyers other than the Lord/Lady Justices themselves. It says that one case waited 19 months to be heard. Your idea is great but the opposite is happening for practical reasons.

    Reply
  13. Angelo Granda

    Automatic appeals about serious Public law family cases will have to be given priority and go to the top of the list. Time-scales for children demand it.
    Appeals should be within 13 weeks or at the most 26.
    As i have tried to explain to you ,Sam, the effect of making appeals automatic will be to reduce the need for them and lessen the pressure on the Courts in the long-run.

    Reply
  14. Sam

    I can understand part of your argument . It has a similarities to my pet theory that CS should be subject to something like PACE. Basically accountable, so that would force them to follow correct procedure and fewer cases would be started. Have I got that right?

    Reply
  15. Angelo Granda

    My opinion is based on the opinion of the P.M’s spokesmen ( including top legal advisors within Parliamentary circles) that the one and only remedy when the LA’s don’t conduct cases correctly is an appeal to a higher court. As far as i know, that advice might have come from the Attorney General himself,i don’t know.
    I do not even know what PACE stands for but it is fairly clear that LA’s have little respect for anyone or anything other than a court. Most of their efforts ( including valid evidence and false evidence) is aimed at achieving what they want be it legitimate or illegitimate. They regard the law as an aspect of social work ,one to be overcome in order to achieve their aims not one to work alongside with.
    Currently, any lower court judge is granted the ‘discretion’ to issue orders more or less as he sees fit whether or not cases have been conducted correctly.
    Thus , when such a serious sanction as permanent liquidation is forced upon a family, they should have a right to an appeal automatically. I don’t see what more i can say.
    If one were sentenced to death,one would have a right to appeal and even if the appeal failed,one would be able to plead for clemency. That plea would go to the very top.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      This PM and his government have little regard for the law as far as I can see, they would like to change the law on adoption to make it easier according to their rhetoric.

      Reply
  16. Sam

    Sorry Angelo when I fell into the abbreviation trap. Police and Criminal Evidence Act . Basically “normally” provides safeguards for any one arrested . One of the provisions I would copy is to put a time frame into gathering of evidence as the present system allows drift for months/years preproceedings which doesn’t benefit the family. All interviews are of course recorded and a solicitor offered. Due regard has to be given to the person’s capacity to understand the process.

    Reply
      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        Yes, but I think Sam was clear she was referring to pre-proceedings? I agree – as I keep saying; I am rarely asking ‘why did this LA intervene in this family’s life at all?’ rather I am asking ‘why did it take them so bloody long to get this to court?’

        I quite like the idea of something akin to PACE. Add it to list for #CPConf2016?

        Reply
        1. helensparkles

          I wasn’t clear it was, hence reply, but only popped in for a minute. There are timescales both for absolutely everything in my word. There are timescales for conferences and pre proceedings, as well as reviewing both. If a decision hasn’t been made before, 2nd review conference (9 months of working with a family) will be the timing for that, in order to avoid children drifting on CP plans. The decision may not be to issue of course, it could be to close, support with child in need plan, or package of support from universal services as examples.

          Reply
    1. helensparkles

      I think one of the features of CP cases is that they are reviewed, at conference and in pre proceedings, and at each stage you are really asking what has changed and is it enough for children in this family to be safe. They also give families the time to effect change which could be over challenging in 26 weeks. I have a pre proceedings timescale but can’t find it in the PLO so maybe that is something that needs to be there.

      I think one problem I have with comparing the CP timescales to PACE is the way cases evolve whilst I am working with families. Most are a series of events over a period of time, both before I have a case and during. I’m not a detective so although the cases that go straight to issuing may involve a one off event, most aren’t. The ones that are often do involve a crime. That doesn’t mean they should just drift, just wondering if the timescales for conferencing, monitoring the CP plan and pre proceedings don’t work for you or if people just don’t know what they are.

      Reply
  17. Angelo Granda

    Likewise, when the Government (we) refers to making adoption easier, it means post-proceedings in those cases when adoption has been decided on (as a last resort) only.
    Thus I would not argue with their policy in that regard.
    However, I think forced adoption should never be imposed in the first place. It is always more humane to impose reform upon a family.

    Forgetting about my preferences about forced adoption, #CPCon2016 should be made to understand that whatever the concerns are, the legal guidelines and procedures are laid down to be followed not flouted.
    It is irrelevant whether we are asking ‘why did this LA take so long to get this to court?’ It is irrelevant whether we are asking ‘why did this LA bring this to court at all?

    Both questions are probably answered by the LA’s failure to follow guidelines and procedures scrupulously.

    Of course, that is also the reason for my long-held doubts and oft-expressed views about the system. Similarly, I doubt whether something akin to PACE will change the system DECISIVELY. It matters little what new procedures are introduced when LA’s tend to bypass such guidelines and procedures; they will ignore the PACE instructions too. Just as now, the lower Family Court can always grant the LA too much latitude and absolve the LA for having done so.

    The only decisive way to restore Public trust, in my view, is to make it possible for respondents to appeal lower court decisions immediately when they feel the case has been conducted wrongly. It is always in the welfare interests of children to conduct cases correctly and unless they are, the no-order principle should apply.

    #CPCon2016 should consider that the matter of Public trust in the system is essential to its smooth running. If professionals are satisfied and trust the system it matters little. The most important thing is that families trust it. CP professionals exist to serve the Public.

    QUOTE: Exactly. An ounce of prevention better than a pound of cure. Once case has started off down wrong track, it is very, very difficult to get it back: UNQUOTE

    Sarah, I think we all have to realize that cases start off down the wrong track because procedures are not followed right at the start and information is not checked sufficiently and/or when a SW or the LA has illegitimate aims. The latter is more likely when guidelines are ignored.

    I have not read Brene Browns works fully myself. I suggest that when cases go down the wrong track at the outset it is because the CS has failed to check its information. When respondents correct wrong information, the SW’s will seek to minimize their initial mistake to justify themselves and deny they made a mistake. In fact I think that is obvious!
    Assuming we all accept that SW’s are prone to invent false narratives, has Brene researched why? I wonder if she has researched if ‘self-justification’ and rationalization of ones own mistakes may have something to do with it. I hope you can relay her thoughts to readers on the subject.

    Reply
  18. Angelo Granda

    QUOTE : One of the provisions I would copy is to put a time frame into gathering of evidence as the present system allows drift for months/years preproceedings which doesn’t benefit the family : UNQUOTE

    Sam, I share your concerns . However, there is also a big problem also around LA evidence when Family Court proceedings have begun. The LA presents evidence and concerns . The respondents will present their own evidence which negate and prove the concerns invalid. The respondents may win the case at an early stage. However, Instead of accepting its concerns are needless , the LA sticks to its guns and to justify setting proceedings in train in the first place, it will go to extremes and conduct a witch hunt ,seeking out any evidence true or false to support its original aims. It will aim to negate any argument put forward by the respondent and can introduce new ‘concerns’ at any time. It can even present fresh evidence without due notice at the final hearing to swing a court decision in its favour.
    I don’t think that is fair.

    Sarah, when a Magistrates Court ( Family Proceedings) adjourns a case for various reasons, it issues an order which stipulates that LA evidence and concerns must not be added to during the adjournment period, does it not? Should the same rule apply in the county court?

    Reply
  19. Sam

    Angelo
    I do wish you had decided to go to the conference instead of us going around in circles.
    In my opinion only and I could be wrong what I would like to see is a window of time for CS to prove the case had met the threshold to issue proceedings. If they can’t then they either support the family if that is what is needed but not use the CIN status to conduct a fishing expedition or stop all involvement. I would also expect all meetings to be recorded and what is happening plus the expectations of SW explained very clearly in writing.
    I suppose I am after something more akin to a criminal system, someone may be stopped because a computer check may throw up a previous history BUT they cannot be then arrested if they have not committed an offence at the time. At the moment SOME LA’s have suspicions, they may be weak ,start child protection procedures then build up a pattern to justify . This may go on for months or years. If anyone’s behaviour was scrutinised over such a period of time, everyone would probably have CS involvement, all make mistakes, eg David Cameron leaving his daughter behind at a pub. Just imagine if a parent with involvement with CS did the same:Parent who may have alcohol issues abandoning child failing to put the child’s needs first , possibly drink driving/ mental health problems as memory loss could be an indicator also query the child’s attachment.
    Just a thought.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      If an issue arises during CIN or CP process, it arises, that doesn’t mean anyone is fishing for it. Did you not get copies of the plans? They should detail the work and expectations of the SW as well as other professionals. I don’t have a particular view about DC because it isn’t a pattern of behaviour (as far as I know) if someone continues to do that because they are drinking etc. that might be different. There are some high profile one off events I do think have been treated differently because of who those people are though.

      Reply
      1. helensparkles

        BTW when I say that it doesn’t mean I think meetings, plans etc. are always accessible to parents, even if they are there/have a copy. LAs which use the Signs of Safety model probably do that best, because those meetings say quite clearly without jargon what ‘we’ are worried about, what’s working well, what needs to change & next steps so everyone knows what should happen next.

        Reply
      2. Sam

        Helen what do you think though about intervention being time limited? Or instance would you agree with a maximum of 6 months then if the threshold for care proceedings were not met all CS involvement stops. Would it be reasonable to say that at risk register is not really needed if each child has an individual time limited plan.I am just floating ideas around.

        Reply
        1. helensparkles

          I would separate out, because they are separate processes even when they run alongside each other, the CP plan and pre proceedings.

          The child protection process timescales first review at 3 months, second review is at 6 months. Core groups which monitor and manage the CP plan are within 10 days of first conference and then every 6 weeks. The second conference can be pulled forward, the only times I’ve tried to do that it got pushed back again because things were going wrong… Whilst the first 3 months do involve SW intervention, and work is done in that time, it is also the time that referrals are made and services identified. Sometimes that isn’t quick and this isn’t necessarily because people are being a bit slack. A counsellor/psychiatric service has to do an initial assessment before signposting to the most appropriate service for example, a parenting course might not start 4 weeks into the plan and last 12 weeks, work around DV and substance misuse can be interrupted v easily by events and completion might be very important. So if I were to impose a timescale on that it would be 9 months. At 9 months there should be an assessment of whether a legal planning meeting is needed and if the CP plan can end. The CP plan might end with support and services put in place under a CiN plan or it can just end, usually with some support form universal services but not always. I’ll have to dig out the reference but basically research indicates that if change is going to happen it is going to happen in 6 months. I just think it would be unrealistic to think that everything starts of day 1; some things can some things can’t.

          Pre proceedings should be a maximum of 6 months and reviewed after the first 3 as far as I am aware but can’t find the reference in the PLO. I think if you haven’t issued by 6 months, given you are running this alongside the CP process, you should either being issuing or coming out of pre proceedings.

          Reply
          1. Sam

            I do understand what you are saying but I don’t think the CP process is followed this rigidly in all LA’s . From listening to other parents it seems once you are involved , it can take years for CS to back off. Is this the parents fault or lack of resources or the risk adverse culture? Very little or no work is actually done with the family even if it is a recommendation at a core group or conference. Meanwhile the situation is likely to deteriorate .
            What also concerns me is it is clear that children are left with unsuitable parents far too long. What do SW actually know about the core issues: addiction , mental health , domestic violence and learning difficulties ? For instance do they attend domestic violence refuges or mental health units as part of their training?

          2. helensparkles

            It is quite hard not to follow the CP process but that doesn’t mean that it is always effective. Lack of resources is an issue and that can’t be gotten around now that everything is cut to the bone, what is recommended at core group or conference ought not be something that can’t be accessed. Some SW will be overwhelmed with caseloads and just not be able to touch all they need to in order to work to the plans effectively.

            SW do get training in all the areas you mention but they aren’t going to be specialists. The range of tasks people want SW to cover is ginormous. Service user involvement on social work courses is invaluable. Some of the places you mention attending it could be insensitive to do so, we are not voyeurs, but there are other ways of learning about those settings. I don’t think I would ever have understood as much about the life of a sex worker subjected to DV & pimped by her ‘boyfriend’ if I hadn’t heard it from her. The course itself is also a mix of the practical and academic, so 50 students on 50 different placements, there’s a lot of shared learning. I have also found all SW v generous in sharing good practice, so if I see something that seems to work well I’ve never had anyone be precious about sharing it. As well as the original training, SW training is ongoing, we have to keep up a certain number of continuing professional development hours in order to reregister. That includes current research as well as attending training courses or conferences.

            There are plenty of cases where risks reoccur, they close in the knowledge that it is very possible that a crisis could easily bring them back to CP because for some people change is easily jeopardized. There are also families where things get better when SW intervene and deteriorate when it ends, often long term neglect cases. Rather than (or as well as) risk adversity, the cyclical nature of both of those scenarios is very damaging for children and they can be kept on plans longer to monitor. If work has been done, I can’t ascribe fault, I just think that for whatever reason there is lack of capacity. There absolutely does need to be a risk assessment but children can’t be saved from having what is quite a rubbish life sometimes and some families just need what I call scaffolding.

    2. Angelo Granda

      Sorry,Sam ,i understand what you say. However, it does not work like that when the LA has illegitimate aims and SW’s do not check their evidence.
      For example , a mother with two special needs children took one of them to hospital when worried about a rash on the child’s tummy ( in compliance with the special needs care-plan for the child which directed that in the event of a tummy rash he should be taken to hospital within four hours). She was very stressed and worried about the child. Her concerns turned out to be negligible. She agreed with the hospital doctor that she would benefit from CS support given that she had two children with special needs and asked him to send a note to SW’s to the effect.
      The CS never responded at all and did not pay her a visit, communicate in writing ,make any enquiries or offer any support.
      Three years later, when the family came to their attention again as a result of a malicious referral, the key social worker reported to Court that an official referral had been made by hospital following serious concerns about an unexplained rash on the child’s body , that enquiries had been made and that a social worker had been assigned to the case to monitor issues.
      Cloud-cuckoo land. No SW had been assigned to the family at all.
      Nevertheless ,someone placed the false information on to the computer data-base, the new key social worker took the data-base at its word ,did not check with the family and presented the false evidence to Court under oath.
      I have no doubt a barrister,like Sarah, looked at it and decided there had been serious medical concerns about the family over a number of years. When Mum objected, she was disbelieved and the SW’s word taken above hers. It was said she denied concerns and she was unable to work with professionals.
      Sorry to send us round in circles again but had the key social worker only done the right thing , asked the Mum about it and listened to her , the family would still be together today.
      I shall be saying little more about it on this thread. Good luck at the conference!

      Reply
  20. Sam

    That is exactly why I am saying everything needs to be voice recorded at the least. If CS had concerns surely a photo of the rash should have been kept on file also.
    Under PACE if correct processes are not followed a prosecution will fail. The accused has to be treated according to the law and timetables must be kept to.

    Reply
    1. helensparkles

      If the rash was a concern there may not be a photograph on the SW file but there would be a report from the paediatrician, that would have had to go to court to support there was medical evidence of concerns otherwise SW could say anything?

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        It was not photographed because it was of no concern whatsoever to the doctor .The SW stated it was unexplained and of serious concern to the Doctor and the reason for a ‘referral’.
        The SW misrepresented the whole episode to make it look like there had been long-standing concerns about Mum’s care of the children. Both children were fit as fiddles. So was Mum, the only mistake she made was to agree with the Doctor’s concerns and request support. No -one submitted a report from the hospital doctor.
        I am confident the information was false because a year and a half later ,i was shown an official complaints report which upheld Mum’s complaint that the SW had given false evidence (‘lied’). The SW herself confessed that she hadn’t conducted enquiries correctly and visited the Mum ,interviewed her etc. There was no record of any SW being assigned to the family at the time.None had been.No-one contacted the family.
        No-one will ever know who recorded the false evidence on the computer data-base because no-one will investigate.
        I used this Mum’s case as an example of how false evidence can be concocted by anyone with illegitimate aims. It is no use going further into it now and arguing about it any further. It was false period.
        In my view, the Mum should have been granted an appeal automatically on the grounds that the CS had conducted the case incorrectly and presented false evidence under oath. That was not the only false evidence.There was lots more too.
        I wish all sucess to the CPR conference this Friday. However, what we have to bear in mind is that standards of evidence have been in place for many years also tight rules which apply to SW practice and enquiries,working together etc. The Family Court does not enforce them strictly enough and the possibility of the same happening will still exist if PACE type standards are introduced. The Family Court is a civil court not a criminal one and obviously, it will be impossible to enforce PACE type standards in Private Law cases and it may not be possible in less serious Public Law cases either. Public Law Cases rely almost entirely on the integrity of professionals mainly the LA.
        I ask you to remember that we are not seeking to introduce new methods to protect families against legitimate aims. These are already in place for the most part. We are seeking to guard against LA authoritarinism and illegitimate aims.
        Helen has told us in some detail of how cases should be conducted but we should beware that when her practice rules are not followed by others and when false evidence is presented to courts , it is not by mistake.
        Without using capital letters on this occasion , remember that the appeal advice came from the top ( the PM’s office ) and was addressed to an MP. Whilst the LA is often at fault, the main fault lies with the Family Court system which allows the LA to get away with it. When the lower court does so, the only remedy is to appeal.

        Reply
  21. Therefore no

    It was not photographed because it was of no concern whatsoever to the doctor .The SW stated it was unexplained and of serious concern to the Doctor and the reason for a ‘referral’.
    The SW misrepresented the whole episode to make it look like there had been long-standing concerns about Mum’s care of the children. Both children were fit as fiddles. So was Mum, the only mistake she made was to agree with the Doctor’s concerns and request support. No -one submitted a report from the hospital doctor.
    I am confident the information was false because a year and a half later ,i was shown an official complaints report which upheld Mum’s complaint that the SW had given false evidence (‘lied’). The SW herself confessed that she hadn’t conducted enquiries correctly and visited the Mum ,interviewed her etc. There was no record of any SW being assigned to the family at the time.None had been.No-one contacted the family.
    No-one will ever know who recorded the false evidence on the computer data-base because no-one will investigate.
    I used this Mum’s case as an example of how false evidence can be concocted by anyone with illegitimate aims. It is no use going further into it now and arguing about it any further. It was false period.
    In my view, the Mum should have been granted an appeal automatically on the grounds that the CS had conducted the case incorrectly and presented false evidence under oath. That was not the only false evidence.There was lots more too.

    Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        Both were by me Helen. I re-submitted ( and added to ) the earlier one which did not have my name to it . I was hoping that the moderator might delete it because it was awaiting moderation.
        Sorry for my slip-up.

        Reply
  22. becki

    I have a problem… my 4 children were placed with a friend on a special guardianship order. I did it due to a violent relationship…I was in a verbal agreement with carer who then went bk on her word. since then 2013 I have struggled to c the children due to the friend making excuse after excuse. Last week march 2017, my son took an overdose and ended up in hospital. hes 13, she has always made it clear she didn’t like him n he too to me he didn’t want to be there. I disagree with the way she talks to the children… the word stupid, not responsible enough to have anything , are jus a few of her comments. I was not told about this until tues of this week. what can I do.. I went to her door which I have never done and she thretned harressment. to check on my own children???? please someone help. I no about psu ,…. but this could happen or something else could happen and I will not be told.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Is there an actual order in place? If so, you need to apply to court to discharge it, if you don’t think that the current SGO is acting in the best interests of the children. But this is a tricky thing to do – you will need to show that your circumstances have changed since the order was made AND to discharge it would be in the children’s best interests. the longer they have lived with the SG, the harder that will be.

      You might find this post useful.
      http://childprotectionresource.online/applying-to-discharge-or-vary-a-special-guardianship-order/

      Reply

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