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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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CARE: (1) GW and (2) PW v Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and KPW ((A Child) by his guardian) [2005] EWCA Civ 1247
Date:29 NOV 2005

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Wall LJJ and Black J; 31 October 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 543

The local authority initiated care proceedings as it was suspected that one of the parents had caused non-accidental head injury to the baby. The judge made findings on the basis of a single expert's evidence. The father appealed against the judge's refusal of an application at trial to instruct a second expert. Thorpe LJ permitted the release of papers to a second expert who in turn expressed a clear disagreement with the first expert. In the circumstances all the parties agreed to the case being remitted to a judge of the Family Division for re-hearing. The Court of Appeal observed that it would be unrealistic and unnecessary to obtain a second opinion in every discipline. In a certain number of cases, however, certain evidence may be pivotal and by its very nature not easily receptive to challenge in the absence of other expert opinion. In such cases the court should be slow to decline an application for a second expert.