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Placement orders in breach of Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005: CoramBAAF note

CoramBAAF is recommending that all local authorities check that their adoption and fostering procedures comply with the detail of the Adoption Agencies Regulations (AAR) 2005 to avoid potential difficulties.

The organisation notes that in November 2021 the High Court handed down judgment in Somerset County Council v NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group & Anor [2021] EWHC 3004 (Fam) dealing with the lawfulness of placement orders made in ten separate cases. The court found that the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) had not made the decision that the child should be placed for adoption in accordance with the Adoption Agencies Regulations (AAR) 2005.

CoramBAAF says:

"It appears that in these cases in Somerset, and possibly in many others, the Agency Medical Adviser had not completed the Child's Permanence Report as required by Regs 15 & 17 of the AAR 2005.  She had not given advice on whether the child needed to have a medical examination and had not written a summary of the state of the child's health. In practical terms this omission had very little effect on the making of the ADM's decision, as she had full medical information from the initial health assessment of the child and any medical reports filed during court proceedings.  In each case the medical adviser provided a full medical report before the child was matched to prospective adopters, and the local authority believed that this was an effective use of the limited medical advisor's time that they had available."

Nevertheless, the Court found that the breach of the Regulations was so fundamental that it could render the application for a placement order invalid.

The court was told that this situation is not unique to Somerset. CoramBAAF suggests that all local authorities check that their procedures comply with the detail of the AAR 2005 to avoid potential similar difficulties. Somerset have commissioned CoramBAAF to review all of their adoption and fostering procedures to ensure that children's futures are not put at risk by accidental breaches of the Regulations. CoramBAAF has encouraged its members to contact its Advice Line if they have concerns about their own procedures and want to discuss this further.

For more details, click here.