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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

27 NOV 2012

FACT-FINDING APPEAL: Re A (Permission to Appeal Fact-Finding Judgment) [2012] EWCA Civ 1477

(Court of Appeal, McFarlane LJ, 16 November 2012)

When the child was 4 weeks old he was found to have sustained 12 fractures which experts determined had been sustained on two different dates. A week prior to this discovery concerning signs were found in his genital area indicating either infection or inflicted trauma.

A fact-finding hearing concluded that one or both of the parents had been responsible for the injuries and the judge determined that the child should not be rehabilitated to his parents' care. The parents' application to reopen the investigation was refused and the local authority was granted final care and placement orders. The parents sought permission to appeal and if the investigation were reopened permission to instruct a paediatric radiologist from the USA. The parents relied on Al Alas v Wray [2012] EWHC 865 (Fam), [2012] 2 FLR 1239 in support of their application.

During proceedings the parents were given free reign to instruct any experts of their choosing and, although it was discovered that the child suffered from a vitamin D deficiency prior to birth, the medical evidence was conclusive that there was no underlying medical condition the child was suffering from which could explain the injuries sustained. If the investigation were re-opened the parents sought to instruct a paediatric radiologist from the USA to prepare a report.

The parents had no real prospect of success in persuading the full Court of Appeal to overturn the fact-finding decision. There was no evidential basis for the contention that the child suffered rickets as a result of a vitamin D deficiency.

In the interests of transparency following the media interest in Al Alas v Wray the court reproduced the two key judgments in the instant case as a demonstration of the thoroughness and fairness with which the case had proceeded.

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