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(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, Black LJJ, Hedley J, 11 December 2012)
The two young children were removed from their parents' care due to their volatile relationship. They were placed with a relative of the mother's who was in a same-sex relationship with another woman. A plan emerged for the women to care for the children long term under a special guardianship order.
The parents lived within the area of Nottinghamshire CC which had initiated proceedings while the carers lived in the area of Suffolk CC. The authorities were now in dispute as to their duties under s 14A-F of the Children Act 1989.
The law both prescribed the incidence of responsibility and provided for a high degree of flexibility. When a child was placed out of area it was of critical importance that consideration was given to whether the child would remain looked after, under an interim care order or accommodated, or not, under a residence order. Local authorities should co-operate at the earliest opportunity to agree as to who would execute the statutory duties and take responsibility for funding.
Suffolk CC and Nottinghamshire CC had now agreed to a proposed outcome whereby Suffolk CC acknowledged it was the responsible authority but discussions with Nottinghamshire CC would take place as to allocation of work and payment.