Reports under section 37 of the Children Act 1989
Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Reports under section 37 of the Children Act 1989

The following Family guidance note Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Reports under section 37 of the Children Act 1989
  • When should the court order a section 37 report?
  • Who prepares a section 37 report?
  • Other directions and orders that may be made
  • Content of the report and considerations/action by the local authority
  • Confidentiality of a section 37 report

Under section 37 of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989), the court has the power to order an investigation by a local authority into the welfare of a child if it appears that public law orders, namely a supervision order or a care order, may be appropriate. The investigation will result in a report, often referred to as a ‘section 37 report’.

See also subtopic: Care and supervision orders.

When should the court order a section 37 report?

When determining whether a section 37 direction should be made, the child’s welfare will be the paramount consideration.

The wording of ChA 1989, s 37 is wide. A direction may be made under this provision within ‘any family proceedings’ in which a question arises with respect to the welfare ‘of any child’. This empowers the court to direct a section 37 report within proceedings for any type of order under ChA 1989, s 8, or for a parental responsibility order, or any application that could be deemed to come within the ambit of ‘family proceedings’. Family proceedings are defined in ChA 1989, s 8(3) as any proceedings under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to children, and under the enactments mentioned in ChA 1989, s 8(4), inter alia, ChA 1989, Pts I, II and IV, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973,