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11 APR 2008

NEGLIGENCE/CARE: Hinds v Liverpool County Court, Liverpool City Council, CAFCASS, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and Dr Brian Tully [2008] EWHC 665 (QB)

(Queen's Bench Division; Akenhead J; 11 April 2008)

Two of the father's children had been adopted following care proceedings; a third child had eventually been returned to the mother's care. After a time the police had raided the mother's home, discovering a quantity of heroin. The mother had been arrested, released on bail for a period, but then sentenced to prison; the third child was now once again in local authority care. The father claimed in the Queen's Bench Division in respect of various alleged breaches of his human rights.

The father's claim was struck out. There was no such legal entity as Liverpool County Court, and proceedings had not been served in accordance with the requisite legal requirements on the Ministry of Justice. The court had invited the father to apply to amend his claim to sue the Ministry of Justice, but he had chosen not to do so. In any event, the decisions of judges were not challengeable under the common law or under human rights legislation merely on basis that such decisions were wrong and unfounded. The father could have appealed the judge's decisions, but had chosen not to do so. The local authority had been entitled to rely on expert evidence and on findings made in the course of the proceedings, and had proceeded on the basis of evidence that had been presented to the court and tested in that context. Ultimately the court, not the local authority, had made the decisions concerning care. Many of the relevant decisions had been made by a borough council not involved in these proceedings. Witness immunity applied both to CAFCASS and the expert. The father had no cause of action against police for failing to take action in relation to the child during the mother's release on bail.

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