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R v Cafcass [2011] EWHC 1774 (Admin)

(Court of Appeal; Munby LJ and Thirlwall J; 12 July 2011)

Four children were the subject of separate care proceedings. There was a very long delay before the allocation of a guardian. The Official Solicitor sought a declaration that Cafcass acted unlawfully and in breach of its statutory duty by failing to appoint a guardian earlier. Defended on the basis that Cafcass owed no public law duty to any child to allocate guardian.

Held that Cafcass has a duty to appoint a guardian as soon as reasonably practicable taking into account its general functions, duties and resources. Cafcass does not owe a specific duty to an individual child.  A mere delay in allocation and appointment of guardian did not of itself give rise to any actionable breach of either Art 6 or Art 8.

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