Natural family in Ghana, securing Article 8 rights

10 January 2019

Rebekah WilsonMonifa Walters-ThompsonMaggie Jones

Re A [2018] EWHC 3625 (Fam) (10 December 2018)

Rebekah Wilson acted for the Appellant. She was instructed by London Borough of Enfield. Monifa Walters-Thompson acted pro bono for the fourth respondents, Mr and Mrs H. She was instructed by Kate Hammond of Miles and Partners Solicitors, who also acted pro bono. Maggie Jones acted for the Respondent Children’s Guardian and was instructed by Wilsons LLP.

This matter is the re-hearing of the appeal lead judgment by Jackson LJ: A, Re (A Child) 2018 EWCA Civ 2240.

The case considered competing SGO placements: an SGO with family members, Mr and Mrs H in Ghana or an SGO in the UK with the Local Authority foster carer the child had been placed with since birth. The Local Authority and the family supported placement in Ghana; while the Guardian supported placement with the foster carer. Both placements had positive assessments.

The case turned primarily on welfare aspects in relation to the competing placements; in particular the recognition of the importance of article 8 identity rights and the welfare impact of that connection with the child’s emotional stability. LJ Robertshaw delivered a robust judgment which saw the child finally placed with his natural family members in Ghana. LJ Roberstshaw questioned what the Guardian had meant by “African English” and cautioned against inviting state foster carers being encouraged to apply for SGO s when such an excellent family placement was available.

Rebekah Wilson, Monifa Walters-Thompson and Maggie Jones are members of the Garden Court Chambers Family team.