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Re B (A Child): Who Held What in the Supreme Court?

Frank Feehan QC and Anna McKenna who appeared for the appellant in the Supreme Court and Justin Leslie offer a tabular summary of the findings of the individual Justices on key issues in the appeal.

Frank Feehan QC, Anna McKenna and Justin Leslie all of 42 Bedford Row

The Supreme Court case of Re B (A Child) [2013] UKSC 33 has already led to significant changes to the approach to be taken in public law family cases. It has also had an effect on the general test in appellate cases and has significantly improved the level of guidance both as to the threshold conditions under section 31 of the Children Act 1989 and in relation to the test of "necessity" when looking at care plans or orders for adoption.

Recently in the course of an argument in the Court of Appeal referring to Re B and comparing the different emphases in the five different judgments, one of their Ladyships joked that it would be useful to have a chart setting out what each of the Supreme Court justices had held in relation to each issue. In fact, in the course of educating members of chambers and our instructing solicitors as to the impact of Re B we had constructed just such a chart and we now offer it to others with the assistance of the readers of Family Law Week.

Of course, the Re B chart is not a substitute for reading and understanding the case in full, it is merely an aid to understanding the broad sweep of the findings and where to find them in the course of five substantial judgments.

All practitioners will also be aware that in a number of recent cases the effect of Re B has been analysed by the Court of Appeal and therefore the chart must also be seen in the context of this now rapidly changing and developing area of law. In particular the judgments of McFarlane LJ in Re G [2013] EWCA Civ 965,   Black LJ in Re P [2013] EWCA Civ 963 and the Court in Re B-S (forthcoming) will be of crucial interest in the manner in which Re B has affected the practical consideration of these major orders.

WIth those caveats however, we hope that this chart is of assistance in coming to terms with what seems to be a new landscape emerging in family law.

To open a PDF of the chart click here .