IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM WATFORD COUNTY COURT
(HIS HONOUR ROGER CONNOR)
[LOWER COURT No. WD04C01372/WD06Z00439]
B e f o r e :
LADY JUSTICE ARDEN
LORD JUSTICE WILSON
|IN THE MATTER OF P-B (A CHILD)|
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MR N O'BRIEN (instructed by Hertfordshire County Council & Messrs Carr Hepburn) appeared on behalf of the Respondent.
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"The appropriate local authority must apply to the court for a Placement Order if they are satisfied that the child ought to be placed for adoption."
"(1) A placement order is an order made by the court authorising a local authority to place a child for adoption with any prospective adopters who may be chosen by the authority.
(2) The court may not make a placement order in respect of a child unless -
(a) the child is subject to a care order,
(b) the court is satisfied that the conditions in section 31(2) of the 1989 Act (conditions for making a care order) are met, or
(c) the child has no parent or guardian.
(3) The court may only make a placement order if, in the case of each parent or guardian of the child, the court is satisfied –
(a) that the parent or guardian has consented to the child being placed for adoption with any prospective adopters who may be chosen by the local authority and has not withdrawn the consent, or
(b) that the parent's or guardian's consent should be dispensed with.
This subsection is subject to section 52 (parental etc. consent).
(4) A placement order continues in force until -
(a) it is revoked under section 24,
(b) an adoption order is made in respect of the child, or
(c) the child marries or attains the age of 18 years.
"Adoption order" includes a Scottish or Northern Irish adoption order.
"(1) A local authority must apply to the court for a placement order in respect of a child if -
(a) the child is placed for adoption by them or is being provided with accommodation by them,
(b) no adoption agency is authorised to place the child for adoption,
(c) the child has no parent or guardian or the authority consider that the conditions in section 31(2) of the 1989 Act are met, and
(d) the authority are satisfied that the child ought to be placed for adoption.
"(2) If –
(a) an application has been made (and has not been disposed of) on which a care order might be made in respect of a child, or
(b) a child is subject to a care order and the appropriate local authority are not authorised to place the child for adoption,
"the appropriate local authority must apply to the court for a Placement Order if they are satisfied that the child ought to be placed for adoption.
"That is correct I have been hampered by not seeing the relationship."
"I took the view that the court had taken the view that I did not need to see the child hence I did not make any objection."
"I never conduct a paper exercise if I do not feel it helpful and I understood that the court must have had very good reasons only to allow a paper exercise. It was my understanding only a paper assessment was allowed. I accepted there are reasons for this. On reading the papers I would have alerted Instructing Solicitors if I needed to see the family. I felt all the way through that I could prepare an assessment for the court."
"His report had been based upon reading the papers only. He had not met the child or any of his carers. Nevertheless, said Dr Yates, he would not embark on a paper exercise if he did not think it would be helpful to the Court, and he understood that the Court must have had good reasons for only allowing a paper exercise in this case. That, it seems to me, is an unfortunate misinterpretation of the position by Dr Yates. I have seen his instructions and it could not have been made clearer that if he thought it necessary to see the people involved he should say so. He did not do so. The court had not 'only allowed' a paper exercise. In fairness to him he did go on to say that he would have alerted the solicitors if he had thought it necessary to carry out interviews, but had felt all the way through he could be helpful to the Court just with a paper exercise."
".. take into account the recommendation of the adoption panel in coming to a decision about whether the child should be placed for adoption."
"(3) Where the adoption panel makes a recommendation to the adoption agency that the child should be placed for adoption, it must consider and may at the same time give advice to the agency about -
(a) …; and
(b) where the agency is a local authority, whether an application should be made by the authority for a placement order in respect of the child."
That seems to me clearly to suggest that recommendation and consequential decision precede an application for a placement order.
Order: Appeal dismissed.