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Edward Bennett
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CARE/PLAN FOR ADOPTION: Re R (Care: Plan for Adoption: Best Interests) [2006] 1 FLR 483
Date:26 JUL 2005

(Family Division, Hedley J, 26 July 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 483

Care proceedings were started and a plan for adoption was agreed. The local authority acted as an adoption agency. A guardian was appointed and at the final Family Proceedings Court (FPC) hearing the guardian applied for an adjournment until after the matching panel had considered the case. The FPC granted an adjournment and the local authority appealed. As the magistrates' court gave no reasons for its decision the High Court dealt with the matter. Hedley J allowed the local authority's appeal and substituted an interim order for a final care order. In scrutinising a care plan for adoption the court had to be satisfied not only that the adoption was in the best interests of the child, but also that the authority was capable of delivering on its care plan. In general terms this would be dependent on the authority having held a best interests panel, and having ratified the panel's decision. The court would normally expect to be satisfied that there were prospective adopters capable of meeting the needs of the child; in some cases detailed evidence that the placement was possible would be required. However, as a general rule the decision about matching is a decision for the local authority in the execution of an approved care plan rather than a decision for the court.