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

The following Family practice 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

Reports under section 37 of the Children Act 1989

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

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