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Family Law

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02 SEP 2013

CARE PROCEEDINGS/PUBLICITY: Re A and B (Reporting of Judgment)

(Supreme Court and Magistrate's Court of the Falkland Islands, CJ Gumsley)

Following the judgment in Re A and B (Wardship and Supervision Orders) the court was asked to determine whether the judgment should be published following an informal request from the Governor of the islands to have access to the judgment.

The judge found that this was undoubtedly a case which raised fundamental issues as to the capability of the Crown on the Falkland Islands to deal with social welfare matters and matters of child protection. The court had found that such was the state of the social services department that parental responsibility had to be removed from the Crown and vested with the court through wardship orders.

There was a clear public interest in highlighting where a system was failing and to highlight where, in the considered view of the court, the operation of that system was currently posing a risk to children. There was also a clear public interest in showing how the court exercised its powers in an independent way. In addition it demonstrated interesting legal and practical issues as to how the court might deal with such a situation.

There was a very strong and compelling public interest argument for permitting publication of the judgment notwithstanding the concerns that the children may be identified on this small island where rumours had been rife. Those concerns could be addressed by proportionate and appropriate editing and redaction of the judgment.

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