Q&As

Can the court make findings against parents within care proceedings if the local authority are not seeking any? Can the court direct that there be a fact-finding hearing if no other party deems it necessary or appropriate?

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Produced in partnership with Matthew Fletcher of 1 Garden Court Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 29/07/2019

The following Family Q&A Produced in partnership with Matthew Fletcher of 1 Garden Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can the court make findings against parents within care proceedings if the local authority are not seeking any? Can the court direct that there be a fact-finding hearing if no other party deems it necessary or appropriate?

The philosophical underpinning of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989) is that the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration. The ultimate arbiter of what is in a child’s interests during an application is therefore, with some very limited exceptions, the court.

There is therefore a wealth of authority that makes it plain that it is for the court to determine whether certain allegations should be pursued or not, or whether to make findings outside of those sought by the parties. Often such issues arise in the context of parents who have made partial concessions as to threshold, where the local authority seeks permission to withdraw its application for a ChA 1989, Pt IV order without seeking a finding on threshold.

It is therefore for the court to determine which findings are necessary. This should be viewed through the prism of welfare and only findings that will promote the child’s welfare should be pursued. Ther

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