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Supreme Court to hear care proceedings appeal where authority relied on findings in other proceedings

J (Children) listed for two days in December

The Supreme Court will hear an appeal in J (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 380 before the end of the year.

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the local authority against the dismissal of care proceedings in respect of three children where the facts relied upon by the authority were findings in earlier proceedings involving the mother in which the perpetrator of harm to her child had not been identified.

The appeal will be heard on the 17th and 18th December 2012.

This case concerned a dismissal by a circuit judge of an application for a care order on the basis that the threshold was not met. In previous care proceedings concerning the mother's older child from a different relationship, there had been a finding that she was within a 'pool of possible perpetrators' (along with the father of that child) of causing the death of her first baby. Subsequently she entered into a new relationship with a man in a different local authority with whom she had another child. Upon becoming aware of the previous proceedings (some 4 years later) the second local authority issued proceedings. The circuit judge was invited to find the threshold met solely on the basis of the finding in the earlier proceedings: the second local authority raised no other material concerns about the mother's care for the new child.

The issue raised by this case, therefore, was whether such a finding could form the basis of the threshold criteria being met. The Circuit Judge held that it could not. The local authority appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed that appeal.

McFarlane LJ gave the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, with which the Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chief Justice agreed (the latter giving a separate judgment), dismissing the local authority's appeal.

To read the Court of Appeal judgment, please click here.