(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, Rimer LJJ, Sir Stephen Sedley, 18 July 2012)
The mother had mental health difficulties. A fact-finding hearing took place to determine the cause of a number of serious injuries to the child. The judge announced at the conclusion of the hearing that he found that the father was responsible. The order, however, was never sealed. The local authority in reliance on the decision made plans for the child to be placed with the maternal grandparents alongside an older sibling.
When the judgment was prepared and circulated the judge said that having reconsidered the matter he found it was impossible to identify a sole perpetrator and could not exclude the mother from the pool of potential perpetrators. The mother appealed.
Thorpe and Sedley LJJ in allowing the appeal, found that although a judge had jurisdiction to recall an order before it was sealed, something more was needed than a change of mind to justify the reversal of a judgment. Rimer LJ dissented. He found that the judge was honouring the judicial oath by correcting what was recognized as a fundamental error on her part.