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CARE PROCEEDINGS: Re B (Care Proceedings: Expert Witnesses)

Date:16 MAY 2007

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe, Gage and Toulson LJJ; 16 May 2007)

The child had been removed from the parents at birth because of the father's dangerous history and a previous failure to provide good enough parenting for an elder child, who had been adopted. The local authority case relied on several expert reports and the parents sought permission to instruct their own experts. The judge rejected the parents' application in the light of the background, on the basis that the parents' experts would add nothing to the case.

Although the criticisms of the judge's general approach to the case were unfounded, the parents ought to be permitted to instruct an expert of their own. It was of paramount importance that parents who were at risk of permanently losing their children should have confidence in the fairness of the proceedings affecting their fate.