Q&As

Can I extend the 26–week time limit for care proceedings? If so, how?

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Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 22/11/2017

The following Local Government Q&A produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can I extend the 26–week time limit for care proceedings? If so, how?
  • Procedure for applying to extend the 26–week timetable in case proceedings

Section 32(1)(a) of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989) requires the court to draw up a timetable with a view to disposing of an application brought under ChA 1989, Pt IV:

‘(i) without delay, and

(ii) in any event within twenty-six weeks beginning with the day on which the application was issued.’

See Practice Note: Public children—Public Law Outline 2014—Timetable for the proceedings and the child.

Despite this provision setting out a clear time frame of 26 weeks within which care proceedings should be completed, the court can grant exceptions to the 26–week time limit. ChA 1989, s 32(5) provides that a court may extend the time limit 'if the court considers that the extension is necessary to enable the court to resolve the proceedings justly’. When determining such an application, the court must have particular regard, pursuant to ChA 1989, s 32(6), to:

  1. the impact which any ensuing timetable revision would have on the welfare of the child, and

  2. the impact which any ensuing timetable revision would have on the duration and conduct of the proceedings

ChA 1989, s 32(7) is clear that extensions are not to be granted routinely and require specific justification. Nevertheless, extensions may be granted and indeed have been granted by the court within care proceedings sin

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