(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Wall LJJ and Hedley J; 12 June 2007) The child was removed from the mother shortly after birth because of concerns about the mother's mental health, both parents' misuse of alcohol and drugs, and the parents' volatile relationship. The mother applied for an assessment by the local family care resource specialist under Children Act 1989, s 38(6). One of the medical assessments before the court suggested that a residential assessment would be very helpful, given the mother's encouraging progress during contact sessions. The judge dismissed the mother's application on the basis that the assessment sought would not address the real issue, which was not the mother's parenting abilities, but her ability to address her drug and alcohol problems.
The court allowed the appeal, noting that the relevance of the assessment sought had been underlined by one of the experts, fortifying the mother's submissions that the assessment would be helpful to the court. Without the assessment the essential requirement of fairness would be jeopardised..