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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

25 JUL 2006

ADOPTION: Down Lisburn Health and Social Services Trust v H [2006] UKHL 36

(House of Lords; Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond and Lord Carswell; 12 June 2006) [2006] FLR (forthcoming)

In a Northern Ireland case, the parents withheld their agreement to adoption, and the authority sought a freeing order. Prospective adopters had not been identified, and the parents required assurances that post-adoption contact would take place. Expert evidence supported post-adoption contact as being in the child's best interests. The court considered that the agreement of the parents should be dispensed with on the ground that it was being unreasonably withheld.

The majority of the House of Lords considered that the freeing order should stand, but Baroness Hale of Richmond delivered a dissenting judgment, expressing the view that that the judge had taken into account irrelevant matters; he should have considered the issue of post adoption contact as an important feature of the case.

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