(Queen’s Bench Division, Charles J, 8 May 2017)
Public law children – Adoption – Judicial review – Procedural unfairness
The application for judicial review was allowed.
Care and placement orders were made in respect of the 6-year-old child on the basis of a care plan for adoption. The mother’s application for permission to appeal was dismissed. The child was placed for adoption. The mother now sought judicial review of that decision on the grounds of procedural unfairness. She argued that the local authority had failed to keep her informed of key steps in the process, namely, of their intention to place the child with prospective adopters and of the placement timetable. Furthermore, the local authority placed the child in the knowledge that the mother intended to apply for permission under s 24 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
The application was allowed. The decision to place the child was quashed.
In this instance the mother had established that the local authority had not acted in accordance with Re F (Placement Order)  2 FLR 550 in a fair manner. Therefore, it had acted unlawfully in having made the decision to place the child, and in having placed her for adoption in pursuance of that decision and the placement order. Common sense and straightforwardness required the local authority to inform the mother that unless she issued an application under s 24 for permission to revoke the placement order by a certain date, it would proceed with the placement plan in placing the child.Charles J suggested it might be sensible for the Family Procedure Rules Committee to consider providing guidance on what information should be given to parties involved in the adoption process and ways that it could be challenged.