Reports under section 7 of the Children Act 1989
Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Reports under section 7 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 7 of the Children Act 1989
  • Is a section 7 report necessary?
  • When should the court order a section 7 report?
  • Who prepares a section 7 report and what does it cover?
  • Cafcass guidance
  • What are the duties of children and family reporters ?
  • Expressing the child’s wishes and feelings
  • Attendance of CFR at court and recommendations of a report
  • The report
  • Confidentiality of a section 7 report

Under section 7 of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989), a report (often referred to as a section 7 report) may be directed when a court is considering any question with respect to a child under the ChA 1989. Such a report may be requested from an officer of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), a Welsh family proceedings officer or someone from the local authority, on such matters relating to the welfare of that child as are required to be dealt with in the report.Children Act 1989, s 7(1)

Is a section 7 report necessary?

Family proceedings are governed by the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), SI 2010/2955. The rules in respect of private law proceedings relating to children are largely contained in FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, Pt 12 and the accompanying FPR 2010, PD 12B, the Child Arrangements Programme (CAP).

A section 7 report will not be ordered in every case. If the matter is considered suitable for non-court dispute resolution, a report may not be ordered immediately. FPR 2010, PD 12B, para 14.3 provides that at the first hearing dispute resolution appointment (FHDRA), before a report is ordered, the court should consider alternative ways of working with the parties such as mediation.

In some cases, a section 7 report will not be appropriate. This might be the case where, for example, there is no welfare issue to report about.

In other cases, a section 7 report may not be appropriate because the nature of the matter requires some other investigation and report. For example, in certain cases, the court might consider that it may