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Lords Judgment in B (Council) due this week

The House of Lords judgment in B (Council) is due to be pronounced on 11 June 2008. The case concerned the approach to standards of proof in sexual abuse fact-finding hearings. It arose from a judgment of Mr Justice Charles last year which, he stated, "demonstrates the difficulties presented by families to public authorities applying a welfare test when, as is not uncommon, members of the family do not do their best to give a full and truthful account." This meant that he "cannot penetrate the uncertainties that exist to make findings to the civil standard (more likely than not) or indeed as to which of the stark rival contentions is more likely."

In the schedule to that judgment he had concluded that

"an inability to find that it is more likely than not that the alleged inflicted harm occurred does not equate to a finding that it is more likely than not that it did not occur, and vice versa. To reach a conclusion on a stark choice between two real possibilities that one of them is more likely than not to be correct, the court has to be able (on the evidential approach set out in Re H and R) to penetrate with sufficient clarity, the competing factors and the relevant uncertainties to reach that "more likely than not" finding. Sometimes it will be able to do this and therefore reach a conclusion based on that test that a person inflicted harm, or that the person alleged to have inflicted harm did not do so, and therefore should be exonerated. Sometimes, as is the position in this case [...], it will not."

You can read the original judgment and the attached schedule via the links below:

A Council v B & Others [2007] EWHC 2395 (Fam)

A Council v B & Others [2007] EWHC 2395 (Fam): Schedule A

6 June 2008