The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has published guidance on working with children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The guidance sets out arrangements for...
(Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court; Stephen Morris QC (sitting as a deputy High Court judge); 28 November 2008)
The claimant was an Iraqi asylum-seeker; he claimed to be 15 on arrival in the UK, and therefore entitled to accommodation as a child in need. The local authority assessed him as being over 17, and eventually agreed to produce a pathway plan for the claimant on the basis that he was an eligible child. The claimant argued that he was instead entitled to a care plan. The first medical report produced considered that it was more likely than not that the claimant was 17 years old; however, a subsequent, much more detailed report from a different expert concluded that the child was about 15. The local authority decision maker rejected the second report on a number of grounds, expressing doubts about such medical reports in general, and about the reliability of this expert's reports in particular.
The expert report had been produced in accordance with guidelines from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The local authority was not entitled not to consider the expert's report because of a general objection to such reports, and had not relied upon any medical evidence to demonstrate the general unreliability of this expert's reports. As long as medical reports of this type were admissible and until a clear finding that they were irrelevant, there was a duty to give them due and proper consideration. The evidence suggested that the authority had not done this, and the decision would be quashed.