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Family Proceedings Courts must formulate their own reasons, not be spoon-fed them

Sep 29, 2018, 19:02 PM
There has been a fairly widespread practice that Local Authorities have been asked by the FPC to draft Facts and Reasons in cases that are agreed, or not opposed. That has been somewhat vulnerable since the Court of Appeal decision in the civil case of Cr
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Meta Title : Family Proceedings Courts must formulate their own reasons, not be spoon-fed them: Re NL (A Child) (Appeal: Interim Care Order: Facts and Reasons) [2014] EWHC 270 (Fam)
Meta Keywords : family law, Re NL; Appeal; Interim Care Order; care proceedings
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Date : Feb 13, 2014, 08:00 AM
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There has been a fairly widespread practice that Local Authorities have been asked by the FPC to draft Facts and Reasons in cases that are agreed, or not opposed. That has been somewhat vulnerable since the Court of Appeal decision in the civil case of Crinion v IG Markets [2013] EWCA Civ 587 where a judgment appeared to be lifted wholesale from one party's written submissions, with some minor alterations.

In Re NL (A Child) (Appeal: Interim Care Order: Facts and Reasons) [2014] EWHC 270 (Fam), [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming) Pauffley J had this issue highlighted to her and strongly deprecated the practice.

'It is difficult to view the Justices as having been independent and impartial if, as happened here, they simply adopted the local authority's analysis of what their Findings and Reasons might comprise.' (para [68])

And

'Just because there may be tacit acceptance on the part of many professionals within the family justice system that the practice which operated here exists, that does not mean it is right. It is patently wrong, must stop at once and never happen again.' (para [69])

It is of note that the judgment specifically refers to the President having been shown the relevant passages condemning the practice, and that the President cites it in his latest View from the President's Office as being a case that family law practitioners need to read. 

The case may also become a firm favourite for this pithy observation: 'Justice must never be sacrificed upon the altar of speed.' (para [40])

Andrew Pack is a care lawyer at Brighton and Hove City Council and their in-house advocate. He has also represented parents in care proceedings.

He is the creator and author of the Suesspicious Minds child law blog, which deals with public law, private law, social work, serious case reviews and Court of Protection cases - www.suesspiciousminds.com. Andrew can also be contacted via Twitter at @suesspiciousmin.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

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