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Reversing Judge’s Decision to Ignore Expert’s Conclusions

Family and Children

In the case of Re H (children) (placement order: application of principles) [2012], a mother won her appeal against a Judge’s decision to make care orders in respect of her three children.

The mother had married in 2005 and had three children.  The husband has been abusive and subjected his wife to domestic violence as well as hitting one of their children.

The mother had recurring mental health issues.  When she separated from her husband the local authority became concerned about her ability to look after the children.  The children were placed with foster carers and the local authority sought to have long term placement orders made by the court.

At the trial the Judge heard evidence from a Consultant Adult Psychologist whose evidence suggested that the mother was responding well to a drug injection program and that this course of treatment was likely to continue to help the mother achieve stability in her condition.  The children’s guardian changed their opinion after hearing the expert witnesses and chose to no longer support the local authority’s application.

The Judge however felt that there was a number of uncertainties regarding the mother’s condition and accepted the local authority’s application for long term care orders.

The mother appealed claiming the Judge had failed in his judgement by ignoring the recommendations of the experts without explaining why their suggestions should be departed from.  The uncertainties the Judge also mentioned had not been properly analysed.

The appeal was allowed.  Although the Judge was correct to be concerned about a relapse of the mother’s condition he did not analyse the likelihood of such a relapse occurring.  The Judge had departed from the recommendations of all the experts and had not given clear reasons as to why he had done so.  He had also failed to give any weight to the right of the children to have a relationship with their birth mother.

The care orders and placement order made by the judge could not stand.

Child Law Solicitors and Lawyers Eastbourne, Hailsham, Polegate, East Sussex

If you would like advice on children matters please contact our Family Law Department for a free initial interview on Eastbourne 01323 727321 or Hailsham 01323 841481.

Nicholas Dennis
Nicholas Dennis
Alexandra Funnell
Alexandra Funnell
Guy Brown
Guy Brown
Carolyn Richards
Carolyn Richards