ON APPEAL FROM THE PRINCIPAL REGISTRY OF THE FAMILY DIVISION
Her Honour Judge Hughes QC
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LADY JUSTICE RAFFERTY
LORD JUSTICE RYDER
In the Matter of S (A Child)
|- and -
|The London Borough of Brent
Mr Giles Bain (who did not appear below) (instructed by Jyoti Dholakia) for the Respondent local authority
Ms Cherry Harding (who did not appear below) (instructed by Hayes Law LLP) for the Respondent child, 'S' by her Children's Guardian
The child's parents, M and F, were neither present nor represented
Hearing date: 25 June 2013
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Ryder:
"[removal would be] absolutely devastating for [S]. It would be deeply traumatic for her and probably cause lasting emotional damage. Such a removal should only be undertaken in extreme circumstances and if the risk of significant harm was considerable…"
"I found myself satisfied that the risk of harm to [S] remaining with her grandmother is greater than would be removal at this stage in her life."
"I have come to the conclusion that whilst the Guardian is right and it is a balancing exercise and upon careful analysis and an examination of all the component parts I conclude that the risks to [S] in remaining with the grandmother are outweighed by her need for a stable and secure future and I have concluded that I should refuse her application for a Special Guardianship Order and agree to a Care Order in favour of the Local Authority… "
i) misquoted or misunderstood the evidence of the independent social worker and the children's guardian as to whether and if so to what extent each of them recommended a special guardianship order and as to whether the prognosis of the family mediation was good or poor;
ii) failed to give any or any adequate reasons for rejecting the advice of the children's guardian and the independent social worker who was an expert appointed by the court in accordance with Part 25 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 [FPR 2010];
iii) wrongly relied upon her own chance observations about the relationships of family members outside the court room without disclosing those observations to the parties and inviting evidence and/or submissions about them before revealing them in judgment;
iv) failed to consider the welfare of the child in the context of the timetable for the child anticipated in the adjournment decision of the case management judge to allow family mediation to take place;
v) failed to analyse the benefits and detriments of the two permanent placement options before the court and in particular, the welfare factors and the balance of risk of harm relating to adoption having regard to risk of harm in removal of S from K's care;
vi) wrongly decided that it was proportionate and/or necessary to make the care order.
"a permanent placement where her on-going needs will be met in a safe, stable and nurturing environment. [S]'s permanent carers will need to demonstrate that they are committed to [S], her safety, welfare and wellbeing and that they ensure that she receives a high standard of care until she reaches adulthood
Adoption will give [S] the security and permanency that she requires. The identified carers are experienced carers and have good knowledge about children and the specific needs of children that have been removed from their families… "
"Special Guardianship Order: This is the application before the Court and which would afford [S] stability, in terms of remaining with the same primary carer and the opportunity to be raised within her birth family. I do not consider that the situation within the family is suitable at present for this Order to be made.
Adoption: [S] could be placed with a family where she should experience stability and security without conflict. This may be the best option for [S] if current concerns cannot be resolved in a timely manner."
Lady Justice Rafferty
Lady Justice Arden