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Standard of proof in care proceedings is balance of probabilities

Date:12 JUN 2008

The House of Lords yesterday handed down its judgment in the appeal case of Re B (children) [2008] UKHL 35. In dismissing the appeal, the Lords unanimously held that the standard of proof to establish the threshold for making a care order was the balance of probabilities. Only a proven past event can establish a likelihood of future harm.

In the judgment Baroness Hale of Richmond said: "I would go further and announce loud and clear that the standard of proof in finding the facts necessary to establish the threshold under section 31(2) or the welfare considerations in section 1 of the 1989 Act is the simple balance of probabilities, neither more nor less. Neither the seriousness of the allegation nor the seriousness of the consequences should make any difference to the standard of proof to be applied in determining the facts. The inherent probabilities are simply something to be taken into account, where relevant, in deciding where the truth lies".

To read Newswatch's full case summary and to download the judgment click here.