However, the real
impact of the judgment in this case is not the damages awarded against the
local authority or the willingness of the court to take action for
non-compliance by parties. In fact, the major
impact is on the parties concerned in the case; the mother and the child. As Mr Justice Keehan said in his judgment:
' The catalogue of errors, omissions,
delays and serial breaches of court orders in this matter is truly
lamentable. They would be serious enough in respect of an older child but
they are appalling in respect of a 15 day old baby. Each day, each week
and each month in his young life is exceedingly precious. Where so young a
child is removed from the care of his mother or father his case must be
afforded the highest priority by the local authority.
 The use of the
provisions of s.20 Children Act 1989 to accommodate was, in my judgment,
seriously abused by the local authority in this case. I cannot conceive of
circumstances where it would be appropriate to use those provisions to
remove a very young baby from the care of its mother, save in the most
exceptional of circumstances and where the removal is intended to be for a
matter of days at most.
 The accommodation
of [the child] under a s.20 agreement deprived him of the benefit of
having an independent children's guardian to represent and safeguard his
interests. Further, it deprived the court of the ability to control the
planning for the child and to prevent or reduce unnecessary and avoidable
delay in securing a permanent placement for the child at the earliest
 I trust that the
events of the first 23 months of [the child’s] life will not have a
detrimental impact on his future development and his emotional and
psychological well being. There is a real risk they will do so.'
court orders is likely to remain a hot topic for the judiciary and the very
real impact of non-compliance cannot be ignored.'
with court orders is likely to remain a hot topic for the judiciary and the
very real impact of non-compliance cannot be ignored.