Family Law Titles
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(Court of Appeal, McFarlane LJ, 30 July 2013)
Care proceedings were initiated in relation to the young child, now 21 months of age, due to concerns for the care offered by his 17-year-old mother and her relationship with the father. Soon afterwards the grandmother put herself forward as a potential long-term carer of the child under a special guardianship order.
At the final hearing the judge found in favour of the local authority with a care plan for adoption. The grandmother sought permission to appeal.
Permission to appeal was granted. The primary reason for doing so was the impact of Re B  UKSC 13 and the need for courts to approach the question as to whether a child should be removed from the natural family and adopted, in a manner which paid full respect to the human rights duties imposed upon a court, to respect Art 8 family life rights, and only to grant such an order where it was necessary to do so, or where nothing else will do.
The Supreme Court was unanimous it its determination that the test that an appeal court should apply was not whether a decision was plainly wrong but whether it was wrong.
In addition the judge failed to consider in the judgment why it was necessary to proceed with adoption and although the word proportionate was used there was no explanation as to why adoption was proportionate. It was incumbent upon a judge to set out expressly, in terms sufficient for the court to understand, why adoption was to be preferred over a family placement. Further there was no consideration of the benefits or detriments to the child of adoption and no reference to the welfare checklist.
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