(Family Division, Eleanor King J, 11 January 2013)
The child was one of a number of children termed as statutory orphans, who had been the subject of care and freeing orders but in respect of whom an adoption had not taken place or the order revoked. The court was asked to regularise the position of the child and provide guidance on other such cases.
The court held that in cases where the local authority sought the court's exercise of discretion to revoke a freeing order an application to the High Court should be made with notice to all parties including the former parents. Good practice required the parents to be told face to face by a social worker of the intended application.
At the first directions hearing: The court would decide the preliminary issue as to whether it was in the child's best interests to revoke the freeing order based on the information contained in the statement and supporting documents. It was envisaged that by the very nature of the application in most, if not all cases, it would be appropriate formally to revoke the freeing order at that hearing. If for any reason the freeing order was not revoked at that stage it should be re-listed for determination as soon as practicable. The making of the order revoking the freeing order would revive the original care order and give parental responsibility to the mother/father.