Council acted ‘unlawfully’ in adoption case

family law

Essex County Council acted “unlawfully” by placing a child with adoptive parents despite her biological mother’s objections.

Mr Justice Charles came to this conclusion during a judicial review published this week. He declared that the local authority had “deliberately for welfare reasons sought to prevent” the woman applying to challenge a placement order made by the Family Court.

They had intentionally failed to inform the mother about the timing of their plan to place the girl, now six years old, with another family. Additionally, the council did not explain what steps the woman would need to take in order to launch a challenge. Section 24 of the Adoption Act 2002 states that a placement order cannot be revoked if the child in question has been “placed for adoption by the authority”.

The council decided to speed up the process of placing the girl in a new home in order to “thwart” the mother’s application before she had a chance to make it, the Judge explained. He said that “this course of action was unlawful because it was not fair” to her.

Mr Justice Charles officially quashed the placement order as the child had “not been lawfully placed for adoption”. However, he did not have “sufficient information to quantify any damages” the mother would be entitled to under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to a fair trial. That issue should be heard at a later date, he ruled.

Read EL, R (On the Application Of) v Essex County Council in full here.

Photo by Ray Forster via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

Samantha Cordy - June 28, 2017 at 3:43pm

Danced if you do and danmed if you don’t. .. would it be congratulations in proven that local authorities/social services do this in nearly every Bourough? Of course they get away with it because they can. The child and mother should never have to have gone through this amount of child and yes the child will have lasting effects,and the mother has a life sentence, but the father? I will leave that remark.. no actually the father deemed unfit but supervised contact with the child should have been arranged.. however it’s a known fact when abuse happens a lot turns bk to the abusers for some kind of comfort and in no way is the parent/foster parents to blame. It seems a bit strange also that Foster PARENTS WOULD NOT COME TO COURT. This is a life long scar and the local authorities should face criminal charges, how many more families have this council done it to but people can’t get there cases heard due to either legal aid cuts, or simply haven’t got thousands of pounds to pay. I wish this lady well and most of all the child. Yet again another heartbreaking case we continue to read. A letter is unacceptable as history will have reported itself already.

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