CARE PROCEEDINGS: A County Council v DP, RS, BS, by his Children's Guardian [2005] EWHC 1593 (Fam)

20 JUL 2005

(Family Division; McFarlane J; 20 July 2005) [2005] 2 FLR 1031

Once properly instituted care proceedings under the Children Act 1989, Pt IV had been commenced, they remained lawfully established unless and until they were withdrawn. Even where the parties had agreed to the withdrawal of proceedings, the court had a discretion under the FPR 1991, r 4.5(4) to refuse the withdrawal. It is part of the court's discretion to decide whether fact-finding occurs in care proceedings and was not a matter that could itself be unlawful. Necessity, proportionality and pressing need arising from the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950, Art 8 were questions to be considered when determining whether a full fact-finding hearing should occur. Such a hearing was in the child's best interests here as the father was likely to apply for more open contact in the future. There was a pressing need for the facts to be considered and findings made if possible.

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