B e f o r e :
|A County Council||Applicant|
|ML and MML
(by their Guardian)
Ms Beverley Golden for the Applicant
Ms Janet Haywood for the First Respondent
Mr Christopher Rice for the Second Respondent
Mr Adam Smith for the Third Respondent
Hearing dates: 26 February to 1 March 2018
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE MOOR:-
The relevant history
The law I must apply
The burden and standard of proof
(a) To apply the civil standard of proof on the balance of probabilities;
(b) In so doing, to have regard to the seriousness of the allegations and the strength and quality of the evidence;
(c) To give the evidence "critical and anxious" examination; and
(d) At all times, to apply "good sense and appropriately careful consideration to the evidence".
"It is an elementary proposition that findings of fact must be based on evidence, including inferences that can properly be drawn from the evidence and not on suspicion or speculation".
"Evidence cannot be evaluated and assessed in separate compartments. A judge in these difficult cases must have regard to the relevance of each piece of evidence to other evidence and exercise an overview of the totality of the evidence in order to come to the conclusion of whether the case put forward by the Local Authority has been made out to the appropriate standard of proof".
The welfare checklist
(a) The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his or her age and understanding);
(b) His or her physical, emotional and educational needs;
(c) The likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances;
(d) Their age, sex, background and any characteristics which I consider relevant;
(e) Any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering;
(f) How capable each of their parents, and any other person in relation to whom I consider the question to be relevant, is of meeting their needs; and
(g) The range of powers available to the court under the Act in the proceedings in question.
My conclusions on threshold
Mr Justice Moor
1 March 2018