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Assessment of Parents within Care Proceedings

Date:31 MAR 2014

Assessment of Parents within Care Proceedings

Stour Chambers held a book launch party on Friday 28 March 2014 at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge between 6-8pm to celebrate the publication of Simon Johnson's and Gemma Farrington's newly published book, Assessment of Parents within Care Proceedings.

Both authors took to the stage to talk about their contributions and sign copies of the book. The evening included drinks and canapés, and was widely considered a great success.

For more details of the book launch party, including photos, please visit the Stour Chambers Twitter feed.      

The below extract is taken from the recently published Family Law book, Assessment of Parents within Care Proceedings.  

This book has its origin in a conversation between the authors whilst waiting for their case to be called on. On that occasion they were representing the parents in care proceedings and were about to make an application for a direction that there be an assessment of the couple by an independent social worker. Both authors have had many years experience of arguing for and against the making of such directions[1] and had followed with interest the developing case-law on the subject. The conversation turned to the scope for a detailed guide to this area of law and this book is the result.

Its aim is to provide practical help to lawyers and others dealing with issues relating to assessment of parents but it starts by seeking to put the issues that arise in context by looking at the wider background to child care proceedings and the assessment of parents within them. It also looks in some detail at the extensive and fascinating case-law on the courts jurisdiction to regulate assessments that involve children under s 38(6) of the Children Act 1989. These topics are covered in the first three chapters, written by Simon Johnson.

The remaining chapters of the book are by Gemma Farrington. Chapter 4 gives an account of The New Legal Landscape introduced by recently introduced and pending reforms to the family justice system. Chapters 5 and 7 set out a procedural guide to the making of applications for assessment and the all important question of funding. Chapter 6 discusses the wide variety of assessments of parents that may need to be considered in the course of care proceedings.

Although they have each taken responsibility of individual chapters this is a joint work in which each author has contributed ideas and comments. One subject upon which the authors speak with one voice is that of the importance of the subject under discussion. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have only recently re-emphasised[2] the gravity of the decisions that face courts when dealing with child care cases.

In making these decisions the courts need to act on reliable evidence; not least as to the actual or potential capacity of troubled parents to meet their children's needs. Assessments of parents are intended to provide such evidence and remain a crucial element in the court process for care proceedings.


Simon Johnson, Stour Chambers

Gemma Farrington, Stour Chambers


[1] Simon Johnson had also published articles on the subject; see [2011] Fam Law 835 and [2011] Fam Law 1039.

[2] See Re B (Care Proceedings: Appeal) [2013] UKSC 33, [2013] 2 FLR 1075 and Re B-S (Adoption: Application of s 47(5)) [2013] EWCA Civ 1146, [2014] 2 FLR (forthcoming); these and other cases making the same point are discussed in chapter 1.