ENGLAND – High Court emphasises the local authority’s duty to consult appropriately before removing children subject to ICO

Court finds for mother in judicial review proceedings against council

His Honour Judge Richardson QC, sitting in the High Court, has found against the local authority in R (on the application of H) v Kingston upon Hull City Council [2013] EWHC 388 (Admin).

The judicial review proceedings were brought by a mother of two young children, who are the subject of interim care orders, against a decision made by the local authority to remove the children from the care of their paternal grandparents, without court approval for that course or any consultation. The children were removed one day later following an incident where the father of the children is alleged to have made threats.

HHJ Richardson QC granted declaratory relief to the mother against the local authority in that it had acted unlawfully by failing to consult with any of those with whom it was obliged to consult before making the decision to remove the children from the paternal grandparents.

The judge said:

“This case serves as a useful reminder of the need of all local authorities to consult meaningfully and not engage in unilateral decision-making. Had there been consultation in this case the unhappy [incident involving alleged threats by the father] would have been in all likelihood avoided and it may have been possible to have found a route whereby the children could have remained with the grandparents (with additional safeguards) or for removal to have been effected in a much more seemly and kindly way for the children. The mess created in this case was the sole responsibility of the LA.”

However, the judge added:

“This case must not be seen as a vehicle for encouraging judicial review applications when ICO’s are operational. Usually the appropriate remedy is for the family court to control the situation, but there are unusual situations (and this is one) where the actual decision sought to be impugned cannot effectively be made the subject of review in family proceedings. This may well be (as here) where other events have overtaken. In many respects this case is exceptional. I hope it remains so.”


SOURCE: bailii.org

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