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Announcement regarding non-compliance with Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, SI 2005/389

Date:4 FEB 2022
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The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has made an announcement in relation to the impact of non-compliance with the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, SI 2005/389 provisions concerning medical reports. The announcement is intended for all local authorities acting as adoption agencies, all children's guardians and judges and legal representatives involved in placement and adoption cases. It follows the decision in Somerset County Council v NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group [2021] EWHC 3004 (Fam), in which Roberts J considered a group of ten cases in which the local authority sought declarations under Part 18 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 as to the lawfulness of placement orders made under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. 
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Since that judgment, the President says that it has become clear that a number of other local authorities nationally (acting as adoption agencies) have identified similar issues of non-compliance and in early March 2022 he will consider legal argument as to the best and most proportionate means by which cases involving this kind of non-compliance can be addressed. In the light of these developments, the guidance indicates that local authorities are invited to review their policies, practices, and procedures to ascertain whether there are systemic non-compliance issues which raise similar difficulties to those in the Somerset case and if so to begin the task of identifying affected children. The President has also set out guidance for dealing with non-urgent cases raising compliance issues prior to his forthcoming judgment.