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Approved Judgment: H-B-S (Children)

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Mai-Ling Savage and Monifa Walters-Thompson of the Garden Court Family Team represented the appellant.

Rebekah Wilson of the Garden Court Family Team represented the respondent mother.

Lyndsey Sambrooks-Wright of the Garden Court Family Team represented a respondent father.

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Members of the Garden Court Family Team appear in an important hearing on the discharge of ICOs.

An appeal was allowed in the case of Re: H-B-S (Children), which was heard in the Court of Appeal (civil division), on the application of the Local Authority. The decision under appeal was the discharge of interim care orders during a part-heard fact-finding hearing. Injuries were caused to a child T, who was not a child of the Mother’s, but the Mother was in the pool of perpetrators for causing the injury.

The Court of Appeal made clear at [16]

There is no doubt the Court has the power to review the continuation of interim measures that it has put in place and it may decide to exercise that power where the balance of the evidence significantly changes during the proceedings. 

The essential question when making that decision is likely to be whether the further information changes its original assessment of risk.

The Court was of the view that in the instant case, the Judge was not in a position to assess the risk of returning the children home and did not attempt to do so in the short ex-tempore judgement. While the Judge carefully considered the detailed arguments put by the Mother, the Court of Appeal found that the Judge could not properly carry out a balancing exercise without a court determination on the cause of T’s injuries.

The Court of Appeal noted the significant challenges facing the Court and the parties in participating in a hybrid fact-finding hearing. However, it was also noted that when there are concerns about a delay in listing, the Court should establish what the delay is likely to be prior to making a decision. 

Click here to view the Approved Judgment in full

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