(Family Division, Baker J, 25 September 2012)
Care proceedings in relation to two children, aged 4 and 3, were initiated due to the mother's drug abuse and its impact on her capacity to parent. Hair strand testing was carried out to determine the level of the mother's recent drug taking. The results from the first lab showed that the mother had been using increasing amounts of cocaine and opiates. The mother strongly denied those results and obtained a second set of results from a different lab which supported her denial.
Prior to a hearing to determine the conflict in evidence the first lab admitted its evidence was unreliable. The two labs intervened in the proceedings due to the potential consequences in this particular field of evidence. The second lab sought guidance from the court on hair strand testing.
With regard to the overriding objective and the fact that the first lab had admitted its own human error it was not necessary for the court to provide guidance on this well-established and uncontroversial area.