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July 1, 2020

Re LC (A Child – Placement Order) [2020] EWCA Civ 787

This is an interesting little case where the Court of Appeal dismissed the Local Authority’s appeal against the Judge’s dismissal of their application for a placement order in respect of the youngest of three siblings, the care plan for the older two being long-term foster care. This is a situation which will be familiar to most of us practising in this field.

The child (L) who was the subject of the placement application was aged two. She had two older brothers, aged eight and seven. The children were of an unusual mixed heritage: Indian/Hungarian. The evidence seems clearly to have established that the threshold was crossed and there was no realistic prospect of the children being returned to the care of the parents or either of them. All three children had been profoundly damaged by the poor parenting they had received with the result that L had struggled to form an attachment with her various carers. This meant that the risk of adoptive placement breakdown was higher than might otherwise be the case in respect of two year old.

Of particular relevance to the Judge’s decision was her finding that the Local Authority had “promoted the option of adoption for L above all else due to her age rather than undertaking a careful, considered and evidence-based analysis of the pros and cons of adoption against the alternative options such as long-term foster care”. The Guardian felt that the children were better placed together and the Judge agreed that they would benefit enormously from having each other within their placement because of their shared experiences, their ability to support each other and understand each other in the context of those shared experiences. The evidence also clearly suggested that there was a good relationship between the children themselves, even though L was at that time placed separately from her brothers, and the children had good quality contact with their parents.

The case, as always, is fact specific, but Baker LJ’s judgment records the Judge’s useful analysis of the pros and cons, all of which was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The link to the case is https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2020/787.html

Sorrel Dixon