In the case of Re X, the daughter of an adopted father sought access to the original Court file relating to her father’s adoption, who was now deceased.
The adopted father, X, was born in November 1929 and was subsequently adopted by Mr and Mrs C in January 1930 pursuant to an adoption Order.
X died in 2011 and his adoptive parents, Mr and Mrs C had died some years earlier.
In November 2013, the Applicant, Y, made an Order seeking access to the Court file relating to the adoption given she wanted to discover more about X’s birth.
The Applicant, Y, provided a letter and statement explaining the reasons for her application.
The Court considered whether Y should be allowed to access the Court file.
The Court initially considered Section 79(4) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which provided access should only be given in exceptional circumstances. In this case, the circumstances were not exceptional and therefore if the Court relied on this act, access would not be granted.
However, the Court subsequently considered 14.18 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010, which provided it did not have to apply the same approach as confirmed in Section 79(4) above. Under this part, the Court’s duty was to consider all circumstances of the case when deciding whether or not to grant the Order.
The Court gave particular consideration to the following:
- The contents of the Court file;
- The fact that X, Mr and Mrs C and in all probability X’s birth mother were all dead;
- The fact that X had been adopted over 84 years ago;
- The fact that Y was X’s daughter;
- The fact that Y’s reasons for wanting access to the information were genuine and understandable, and
- The fact that any upset that might be caused to any of X’s birth mother’s surviving relatives was no more than speculative.
After considering these facts in detail, an Order was made to allow Y access to the entire original Court file relating to X’s adoption and to receive a copy of the same.
The Court noted that there were deficiencies in relation to the existing law and practice and a new S98 (1A) was to be inserted into the Act to bring within its scope the direct descendants of adopted parents.
Family Law Solicitors Eastbourne, Hailsham and Polegate
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