ON APPEAL FROM WATFORD COUNTY COURT
HIS HONOUR JUDGE SEROTA QC
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
(SIR TERRANCE ETHERTON)
LORD JUSTICE KITCHIN
LADY JUSTICE MACUR DBE
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|HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
Ms C BUDDEN (instructed by Hertfordshire County Council) for the Appellant
Ms H MARKHAM (instructed by Messrs Fahri Jacob Solicitors) for the Respondents
Mr Z SAMUEL (instructed by Premier Solicitors) for the Respondents
Hearing dates : 11 March 2014
Crown Copyright ©
Lady Justice Macur DBE
"the core question is not whether the J's or the [foster carers] can provide better care but whether the J's can provide good enough care. It is only if they cannot provide care of at least that standard that the removal of the girls from their family can be justified";
"The starting point must be that the children are best placed with close family members than strangers and should be placed with close family members unless the family is proved to be unfit, …severance from the family should only take place in very exceptional circumstances. Everything must be done to preserve families. Even if the girls might be placed in a more beneficial environment with [the foster carers] – which incidentally I do not accept – if the J's can offer good enough care the children should be placed with them".
However, it can only be maintained by reading these extracts out of the context of the whole judgment.
Therefore, that a local authority's liability for costs at first instance should be protected subject only to a finding of discreditable behaviour or unreasonableness is entirely justified, acknowledging the demands upon its limited resources.
Lord Justice Kitchin: