(Family Division; HHJ Clifford Bellamy sitting as judge of HC; 19 February 2010)
A local authority alleged that parents were fabricating or inducing illness (FII) in respect of all three children. There was a history of concerns regarding the family about neglect etc. The local authority had twice attempted unsuccessfully to get a court to approve immediate interim removal of children from parents' care.
In a fact finding hearing listed for 20 days, the local authority withdrew proceedings in respect of two of children after one week of discussions between the authority and counsel. Within 3 days the local authority sought leave to withdraw proceedings in relation to third child as well. The legal services commission incurred costs of around £398,000.
Judge reviewed law on leave to withdraw and ordered authority to pay £10,000 of parents' costs. The local authority had failed to consult the children's guardian about the application to withdraw without testing the evidence. Court did not have the power to link leave to withdraw to the requirement that authority assist family with housing and other issues.