Amanda Weston KC successfully secures order setting aside findings against vulnerable teenager

Friday 7 July 2023

Amanda Weston KC, of the Garden Court Chambers Children’s Rights & Public Law Team, alongside Garden Court Pupil Barrister Josephine Fathers, represented T.

They were instructed by Oliver Fisher Solicitors.

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In a robust and succinct judgment the Court of Appeal has deprecated the use of brief ‘overview’ judgments delivered orally (‘ex tempore’) by judges in the family courts and re-iterated the need to observe the guidance of Lord Justice Peter Jackson in ‘Re B (A Child) (Adequacy of Reasons) [2022] EWCA Civ 407 (at paragraphs 59 - 60) to provide sufficient reasoning and analysis to demonstrate how competing narratives have been resolved in proceedings concerning children’s welfare. 

In care proceedings, S had consistently denied an allegation of historic abuse arising in the context of complex family circumstances and parental neglect. By an oral judgment delivered in the space of an hour, the family court purported to find the allegation against him proven. However, the judge had failed to address large parts of the competing evidence and it was impossible to discern from his judgment how he had evaluated the evidence and in particular, concerns that the untested evidence of the complainant T was unreliable. The local authority and Children’s Guardian sought to uphold the findings. 

Giving the judgment of the court Lord Justice Baker held that: 

"Although the judgment in this case does contain some reasoning ….. The deficiencies are on a scale which cannot fairly be remedied by a request for clarification. Where the absence of recorded analysis is on this scale, there is a danger that we would be asking him to carry out an ex post facto rationalisation for a decision he has made without proper analysis.”

The judgment is available here

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