How to draft a local authority threshold document in care proceedings
Produced in partnership with Tim Earl, Solicitor to the Council and Head of Legal Services of Suffolk County Council

The following Local Government practice note produced in partnership with Tim Earl, Solicitor to the Council and Head of Legal Services of Suffolk County Council provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • How to draft a local authority threshold document in care proceedings
  • What is the function of a threshold statement in care proceedings?
  • How does the threshold statement relate to the threshold criteria set out in section 31 of the Children Act 1989?
  • What else will a well drafted threshold statement achieve?
  • What should a threshold statement contain?
  • What are the potential pitfalls for a local authority lawyer when drafting the threshold statement?
  • What evidence is needed to prove the submissions facts relied on?
  • Are there any other practical considerations that a local authority should consider at this stage in proceedings?
  • Additional documents
  • Social engineering

How to draft a local authority threshold document in care proceedings

What is the function of a threshold statement in care proceedings?

It is for the local authority to prove, on a balance of probabilities, the facts upon which it seeks to rely. The threshold statement is the form in which the local authority briefly summarises the acts or omissions of the child’s carers (usually parents) that it says have led to the child suffering or being at risk of suffering significant harm. See Practice Note: Public children—threshold criteria.

Lord Justice McFarlane, giving the main judgment in the Court of Appeal in Re J reiterated the significance of the threshold statement, endorsing what had been set out by Munby LJ in his View from the President's Chambers (2) of June 2013. The threshold statement should be in a short form and must clearly demonstrate:

'what the nature of the local authority case is;

what the essential factual basis of the case is;

what the evidence is upon which the local authority relies to establish its case;

what the local authority is asking the court, and why'

It is essentially an indictment against the parents, making them and the court aware, in short form, of what has led to a need to intervene in the child’s life.

How does the threshold statement relate to the threshold criteria set out in section 31 of the

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