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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