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Family Law

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19 OCT 2007

CARE PROCEEDINGS: A Council v B [2007] EWHC 2395 (Fam)

(Family Division; Charles J; 19 October 2007)

Following a fact-finding hearing the judge found it impossible either to make findings of sexual abuse or to dismiss such findings as unfounded, largely because of the lack of credibility of all members of the family including the children. On the present state of the authorities, in care proceedings the court should strive to reach a conclusion whether it was more likely than not that a child had or had not been the victim of inflicted serious harm or abuse, and if the finding was that the child had been the victim of such harm, a conclusion as to the identity of the perpetrator. But having made that effort, the court might be driven to the conclusion that it could not reach a conclusion and that on the evidence it could not make a finding to the civil standard, so that both the relevant accusation and denial remained real possibilities. Given that the court making the disposal or welfare decision could, in the case of an uncertain perpetrator, examine the degree of likelihood that a person was the perpetrator of proved inflicted harm, the question arose whether it should be able to do the same when the real possibility related to the infliction of harm, rather than who inflicted it.

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