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Local Authority X v HI and Others [2016] EWHC 1123 (Fam)

Date:16 MAY 2016
Third slide
Law Reporter
(Family Division, Roberts J, 12 May 2016)

Public law children – Disclosure – 15-year old subject to care proceedings – Wish for information not to be disclosed to parents – Balance of Art 6 and 8 European rights

An injunction preventing information regarding the 15-year-old being disclosed to his parents during care proceedings was continued.

The 15-year-old young man was made subject to a child protection plan due to concerns that he was experiencing emotional abuse in the father's home. He had made it clear that he was unhappy living with his father and step-mother and had absconded on several occasions. He wished to remain in foster care for the remainder of his minority and did not want to return to the father's home. The local authority and the mother supported that wish. The father opposed it.

During the course of the care proceedings the young man disclosed information to the social worker and guardian which he did not wish either of his parents or step-mother to be informed of. The information did not relate to any of the parents but pertained essentially to himself. The guardian considered that his confidentiality should be maintained and that the information itself could not or should not affect any issue at the forthcoming hearing. However, it was felt that if the parents were informed that they would possibly seek to deploy it in some way as part of their respective cases. The local authority perceived an obligation to disclose the information unless the court held that there was no such duty or obligation.

There were significant concerns about whether or not the information for which protection was sought was truly relevant to the proceedings. Nevertheless the court proceeded to conduct the balancing exercise set out in Re D (Minors) (Adoption Reports: Confidentiality) [1996] AC 593. The court had to bear in mind that the young man was vulnerable and had suffered neglectful and abusive parenting. The guardian and the mother submitted that he was at risk of significant harm in the event of disclosure.

Roberts J was satisfied that there was a clear risk that the consequences of disclosure may well result in the young man's disengagement from the professionals who had provided him with guidance and support since his reception into care. If his current support structure were to be put at risk for any reason, he may well withdraw and internalise issues, thereby putting his happiness and future wellbeing at significant risk.

In this instance the magnitude of the risk of harm occurring and the gravity of that harm if it did occur was substantial and significant. The balance clearly fell in favour of non-disclosure. The court could find no positive benefits to the young man whatsoever in disclosure at this stage. Furthermore, depriving the respondents of the opportunity to have the information would not deny any of them a fair trial. Disclosure would, however, be a breach of the young man's Article 8 European Convention rights.

The injunction preventing disclosure of the relevant information was continued.

Case No: BM14C00304
Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWHC 1123 (Fam)


Royal Courts of Justice

Date: 12/05/2016



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Local Authority X


First Respondent
Second Respondent
Third Respondent
Fourth Respondent


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Mr Matiss Krumins (instructed by Local Authority X) for the Applicant
Miss Ami Bartholomew (instructed by Dowse and Co Solicitors) for the First Respondent
Mr Dorian Day (instructed by Hecht Montgomery Solicitors) for the Second Respondent
Dr Andrew Bainham (instructed by Anthony Collins Solicitors) for the Third Respondent by his Guardian ad Litem
Mr Matthew Fletcher (instructed by Morrison Spowart Solicitors) for the Fourth Respondent

Hearing date: 5th May 2016

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