(Family Division, Peter Jackson J, 14 September 2015)
[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports  2 FLR 87
Adoption – Contact –Whether the Art 8 rights between a parent and child survived after adoption –Mother’s entitlement to post-adoption letterbox contactPlease see attached file below for the full judgment.
The court held that the making of anadoption order always brought pre-existing Art 8, European Convention rights asbetween a birth parent and an adopted child to an end. Those rights arose fromand co-existed with the parent-child relationship, which was extinguished byadoption.
The 6-year-old child was removed from hermother’s care at an early age and had since been adopted. Indirect contact byway of the local authority letterbox system was ordered and had taken placeaccordingly apart from when the mother had used the system to send a solicitorletter asking her to be assessed for direct contact. The letter was notforwarded on as it was found to be inappropriate. The letter was eventuallysent on but in a redacted form.
The mother had not accepted the adoptionand attempted to challenge it in the domestic courts and the European Court ofHuman Rights but had been unsuccessful. She issued proceedings under the HumanRights Act 1998 seeking declarations that: under Art 8 of the EuropeanConvention she and the child had a right to respect for their private andfamily life and correspondence, notwithstanding the making of the adoptionorder; that the local authority was a public body exercising a public functionwithin the meaning of ss 6 and 7 of the HRA 1998 and could be held accountablewhen running its post-adoption letterbox service; that the local authorityacted unlawfully on one occasion by redacting and refusing to forward hercorrespondence via its letterbox service, and should be replaced by anotherservice provider; that s 51A(4) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 wasincompatible with the European Convention. She also sought leave to issue anapplication for contact under s 51A of the ACA 2002.
The mother’s application for declarationswas dismissed. Instead the court declared that: all pre-existing Art 8 rightsbetween the mother and child were extinguished by the adoption; in running itspost-adoption contact service, the local authority was performing a publicfunction; in redacting or not forwarding correspondence sent via its letterboxservice on one occasion the local authority’s actions were lawful. The mother’sapplication for permission to apply for contact was dismissed as being totallywithout merit.
The making of an adoption order always broughtpre-existing Art 8 rights as between a birth parent and an adopted child to anend. Those rights arose from and co-existed with the parent-child relationship,which was extinguished by adoption. Section 51A of the ACA 2002 did not createor maintain an Art 8 right as between a birth parent and an adopted child. Section52A(4) of the ACA 2002 was not incompatible with the European Convention. Apublic body running a post-adoption letterbox service was obliged under Art 8to respect correspondence between a birth parent and an adopted child andadopters, the obligation arising from the nature of the correspondence and notfrom the former parent-child relationship.
Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 2609 (Fam)
Case No: FD14P00786
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
IN THE MATTER OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998
AND IN THE MATTER OF CHILD A
14 September 2015
THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE PETER JACKSON
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KIRSTY LOUISE SEDDON
METROPOLITAN BOROUGH COUNCIL
Seddon v Oldham MBC (Adoption: Human Rights)
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Kirsty Seddon appeared in person with a McKenzie Friend
Lorraine Cavanagh (instructed by Oldham Borough Council) for the Respondent
Hearing date: 19 June 2015Judgment date: 14 September 2015
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Seddon v Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council  EWHC 2609 (Fam)