Family Law

Family Law Newsletter #4316.02.21

Issue #43 of Spire Barristers' Family Law Newsletter: edited by Connie Purdy and Taz Irshad; news and Case Reviews by Francesca Massarella. Francesca is due to begin pupillage at Spire Barristers in September 2021.

Articles from around the web, Legislation updates and Case Updates from Care Proceedings and Financial Remedy matters. Subscribe to receive Family Law Newsletter notifications or email us to give us any feedback.

Jump to: Guidance / Cases Update

The benefits of mediation within family law disputes

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Children’s social care review launched

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Is justice being achieved within remote family law proceedings?

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Backlog of the Family Court provides an opportunity to think differently

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Guidance / Updates

Guidance on private family law following the end of the Brexit transition period

Guidance on public family law following the end of the Brexit transition period

Statement from the President of the Family Division: The Road Ahead 2021 [pdf]

Case Summaries

F v M [2021] EWFC 4

In the Family Court: Mr Justice Hayden

-An important case which provides guidance in relation to allegations of coercive and controlling behaviour.

The necessity for a finding of fact hearing arose from the Father’s (F) application for contact with his two children, Y, and S, aged 6 and 3 respectively, who lived with the Mother (M). In August 2020, the Court of Appeal transferred the proceedings to the High Court after overturning a case management decision not to accept similar fact evidence: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2020/1088.html.

In November 2017, M applied for and was granted a non-molestation order against F. That order has been renewed and remains effective. The nature of the allegations included complaints of “coercive and controlling behaviour” on F’s part; an expression which is given no legal definition in the Family Court. Hayden J states, at [4]:

Understanding the scope and ambit of the behaviour… requires a recognition that ‘coercion’ will usually involve a pattern of acts encompassing, for example, assault, intimidation, humiliation and threats. ‘Controlling behaviour’ really involves a range of acts designed to render an individual subordinate and to corrode their sense of personal autonomy. Key to both behaviours is an appreciation of a ‘pattern’ or ‘a series of acts’, the impact of which must be assessed cumulatively and rarely in isolation.

The evidence in this case involved considering the circumstances of two separate families/relationships, within which F was the common denominator. The first relationship was that between M and F and the second was a subsequent relationship between F and Ms J (J), a woman in her mid-forties with two children.

F and M began their relationship whilst they were students at university, which was approximately 2 hours away from M’s parents’ home. F’s home is in South Eastern Europe, but he was in the United Kingdom pursuant to a student visa. M is from London. M’s parents identified as Hindu but were not particularly observant. F is Muslim.

M said that shortly after she formed the relationship with F, he began to discourage her from seeing her friends and would join her when she was with them and firmly but politely extricate her from their company. Those friends warned M that they thought her new boyfriend was controlling her and that they were worried about her.

Two weeks after they met, M agreed to marry F. M’s parents discouraged the marriage and, thereafter, identified a notable difference in her daughter’s behaviour. M began to ignore her mother’s telephone calls, sometimes not responding for days. At the beginning of January 2014, M’s mother (MGM) contacted her via FaceTime and F answered the phone, declined to put her through and disconnected the call. As January progressed, MGM became increasingly concerned how, on every occasion she tried to speak to her daughter, F would be present and direct M’s conversation.

In early February 2014, M discovered she was pregnant. She was shocked, worried about her future and what her parents might think and told F that she wanted time to think before telling anybody. F, however, insisted that she telephoned her parents immediately to tell them the news. The Court considered that, at this stage, F had begun to manipulate M but also to use her to threaten, intimidate and frighten both her parents.

Later that month, M asked her parents to collect her from university and they did so immediately. Throughout this F was telephoning M repeatedly. A few days later, the police attended at M’s family home and enquired why M had missed lectures. The police records revealed that F had reported M as being kept against her will. Shortly after this F began, on M’s account, to bombard M with messages including threats to commit suicide. F claimed to be trying to save M from parents who were forcing her to have a termination against her will. M took her phone, slipped out of the house and returned to university to re-join F.

The Court agreed with M’s parents that M had succumbed to naked “emotional blackmail” which was F’s strategy to “regain his control”. Within very little time, F had decided that M’s return to her parents was a facet of what he termed “honour-based violence”.

From this point on, M rarely communicated with her mother. Eventually, MGM discovered that M had left university despite discouragement from her tutor. M quickly found herself with nowhere to stay. She was smuggled into F’s halls of residence and often took refuge in the university library. In July 2014, M’s parents found out that their daughter was married.

Y was born on 4th November 2014. The medical notes highlighted the lack of ante-natal care, the previous disclosure of domestic abuse and M’s disappearance for 4 months. The nurses were very concerned for M’s welfare. Despite all of these concerns, M and F left together. F was adamant that he would not allow M to stay at the hospital without him because he considered her parents were a risk to the baby.

In August 2015, following some contact between M and her parents, M’s father (MGF) was prevailed upon to give the couple money to come back to the London area. M’s parents were, at this stage, able to call in on her and sometimes did so unannounced. On one occasion, they arrived but were unable to gain entry. They discovered that whilst F had gone for a shower in the shared communal bathroom, he had locked M and the baby in the room together. F’s account was that he had done so to protect them from other residents. The Court rejected this account and found that F was deliberately curtailing M’s freedom in part because he was concerned that she might run away but also because it was an exertion of his own power.

In the following 18 months, F and M changed accommodation 16 times. It became obvious to M’s parents that F had removed all of M’s means of communication.

The Court found that F’s behaviour was not only controlling both emotionally and psychologically there was also a financial dimension to it.

On 6th September 2017, M sent a message to her parents requesting help and they went to collect her and Y. She was pregnant again at this stage.

On 14th September 2017, M made a complaint of rape against F. The police very quickly concluded that what they perceived as ambivalence about consent rendered the evidence insufficiently strong to prosecute. F denied the allegations, contending that such were malicious. Hayden J concluded, at [43], that he was satisfied that M’s obvious pain and distress would have been clear to F and would have signalled to him without any ambiguity at all that this was not consensual sex. The Court found that M was raped and probably on more than one occasion.

On 23rd March 2018, M was interviewed in respect of a possible charge against F of “controlling or coercive behaviour”. The Court considered, at [45], that the questions and spontaneous responses illustrated both the insidious and manipulative nature of coercive and controlling behaviour and its impact on the victim.

Hayden J referred to A County Council v LW & Amor [2020] EWCOP 50 within which he gave an ex-tempore judgment highlighting the need for vigilance, in the Court of Protection, when seeking to understand and identify coercive and controlling behaviour in the context of particularly vulnerable adults. At [60], the Court set out the paradigm behaviours identified within the guidance published by the Home Office pursuant to Section 77(1) of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

The Court concluded, at [64], that, on the balance of probability, between December 2013 and September 2017, M was subjected to a brutalising, dehumanising regime, by F which subjugated her and was profoundly corrosive of her autonomy.

In October 2017, F met J. J had a long-standing relationship with her children’s father (T). When J and T separated, they did so because T had been having an affair with another woman. After the breakdown of that relationship, the children stayed on with M in the family home.

J met F on an internet dating website. The relationship progressed very quickly and within 3 weeks, J had permitted F to move into her home with the children.

In February 2018, M brought F to stay at her mother’s home for the weekend. F called himself ‘Jordan’, said that he was 40 years of age despite being 26 and stated, amongst other things, that he had a master’s degree, that his family lived in Windsor and that he had been educated at Eton College. All of this background was fantasy. F said that he had paid 20K to a woman with whom he had previously been married in order to obtain leave to remain in the United Kingdom and that he was the Director of a National Health Trust, earning £330,000 per year. Shortly after this visit, J’s mother sent her an email setting out her concerns about the relationship.

J’s mother became extremely alarmed when a couple of weeks later J told her that she wanted to marry ‘Jordan’. Shortly thereafter, J telephoned her mother to say that ‘Jordan’ was not his name, and it was in fact, [F]. She said that he had forcefully told her that she was to marry him and have his baby or he would leave her. Thereafter, J’s communication with her mother became extremely limited. J’s mother noticed that F had begun to monitor their telephone calls which were always on loudspeaker. She felt that he was intrusive and would control what J was saying.

At [72], the Court considered that J’s mother described insidious, unsettling and controlling behaviour enacted in a virtually identical manner.

In mid-July 2018, J’s mother received a call from T. He said there had been some problem in returning the children to J after contact and he telephoned the school where she worked to check all was well. They told her that J had resigned from her post some weeks earlier. In addition, T informed J’s mother that J was pregnant.

The marriage plans soon resulted in an early date being fixed. J’s mother felt unable to attend and J’s father went alone. Upon arrival, he discovered the event had been cancelled and the couple had got married the day before.

What followed was, again, a strikingly similar replication of what happened to M. J had no further contact with either her family or her longstanding and supportive friends. Her car had been sold. The home that J had put so much effort into seemed to have been abandoned. The children were uprooted from their school, friends, family and T and had also disappeared without trace.

In August 2017, T was notified that the children were registered in a school in Cardiff. J’s father drove there to discover whether his daughter and grandchildren were being held against their will. When he arrived, he saw one of the children who was so happy and relieved to see him. F stopped in the middle of the road and instructed one of the children to get in the car straightaway. He stopped J’s father from even speaking to J and she remained in the car, being instructed by F to “drive, drive, drive”. In an attempt of desperation, J’s father lodged himself in front of the car but, in the end, had to step away.

The Court concluded, at [78], that just as F had demonised M’s parents as “honour based” fanatics, he manipulated this event to portray J’s father as the aggressor.

During the course of the incident in Cardiff, somebody slashed all four of J’s father’s tyres on his car. F produced a video which he had taken of J causing the damage. Hayden J considered that the video was produced entirely to cast J in an unfavourable light and that F was manipulatively gathering evidence against her should he, in the future, find it expedient to do so.

On 6th December 2018, J’s children were transferred into their father’s care. Since then, the children have not seen their mother and their birthday cards to her have been returned stating “no one of this name is at this address”. Three envelopes were marked “return to the morally dubious”. The Court considered it likely that these messages were written by F.

J ceased to engage in the family proceedings in Cardiff. Because of this and as nobody appeared to have had sight of her for some months, Hayden J directed the Tipstaff to attend at her home. When she entered the witness box, she told me that she was not prepared to give evidence. She was, however, willing to engage in conversation with the Judge. She said F was a “wonderful man” with a “real empathy” for children. The Court considered that J remained resistant to those who wished to help her and adamant that she required no help.

At [100], Hayden J states:

As I have emphasised, understanding and evaluating coercive and controlling behaviour requires isolating what may sometimes seem to be relatively innocuous incidents and locating them in a context which illuminates their greater significance. In this judgment I have confined myself to what I consider to be the key evidential features and the striking evidential similarities in the two very different relationships in which F is the common feature.

Hayden J goes on to state, at [102], that it is crucial to evaluate individual incidents in the context of the wider forensic landscape.

The Court considered both the available guidance and assistance in both Family and Criminal Law. Reference is made to the definitions of “coercive behaviour”, “controlling behaviour” and “domestic abuse” in the Practice Direction 12J to the Family Procedure Rules 2010 and consideration is given to Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

At [108], Hayden J considered that a tight, overly formulaic analysis may obfuscate rather than illuminate the behaviour. He agreed with the general approach taken to evaluating evidence expressed by Peter Jackson J (as he then was) in Re BR (Proof of Facts) [2015] EWFC 41 and Baker J (as he then was) in Devon County Council v EB and Others [2013] EWHC 968 and considered that the definition in the Family Procedure Rules provided some useful guidance, when it is broken down:

Coercive Behaviour:

i. a pattern of acts;

ii. such acts will be characterised by assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation but are not confined to this and may appear in other guises;

iii. the objective of these acts is to harm, punish or frighten the victim.

Controlling Behaviour:

i. a pattern of acts;

ii. designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent;

iii. achieved by isolating them from support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of their means of independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday activities.

The overall approach to the assessment of evidence in this case was the same as in any other case. It was necessary to factor into the process the recognition of the insidious scope and manner of this particular type of domestic abuse. The emphasis in Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 was on “repetition” and “continuous engagement” in patterns of behaviour which were controlling and coercive. Hayden J considered that behaviour required more than a single act and the wording of Practice Direction 12J was therefore potentially misleading insofar as it appeared to contemplate establishing behaviour by reference to “an act or a pattern of acts”. Key to assessing abuse in the context of coercive control is recognising that the significance of individual acts may only be understood properly within the context of wider behaviour. Hayden J emphasised that it is the behaviour and not simply the repetition of individual acts which reveals the real objectives of the perpetrator and thus the true nature of the abuse.

Within 3 weeks of meeting, Ms J allowed F to move into her home. They were already discussing marriage and children. It later emerged that Ms J had left her employment and was pregnant. Ms J and F married shortly after these revelations. Ms J’s children were placed in the care of their father, T, in other proceedings as the children were found to be distressed by living with Ms J and F. Ms J continues to attest to F’s good nature and intentions towards her and her children. However, the evidence suggests a very similar pattern of behaviour occurring with Ms J as with M before her.

The court undertook an analysis of the current law surrounding domestic abuse within a family law context in order to come to a decision in the present case. The case of O’Brien v Chief Constable of South Wales Police [2005] UKHL 26 was cited, in which it was held that an individual’s behaviour in other circumstances increases the likelihood that he will have behaved in the alleged manner. It was concluded that such an analysis applies equally to family law proceedings.

Coercive and controlling behaviour is defined in the Family Procedure Rules 2010 PD12J as ‘an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim’ (coercive behaviour); and ‘an act or pattern of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour’ (controlling behaviour). The criminal definitions were also considered in order to emphasise the continuous nature of this kind of abuse.

Hayden J made clear, at [112], that broader professional education on the scope and ambit of coercive and controlling behaviour was likely to generate greater alertness to abuse of this kind which too frequently lied buried or only superficially investigated.

The Court did not consider it appropriate to give prescriptive guidance on the use of Scott Schedules. Whilst Hayden J saw the advantage of carefully marshalling the evidence and honing down the allegations, he could also see that a particularly insidious type of abuse, may not easily be captured by the more formulaic discipline of a Scott Schedule. What was really being examined was a pattern of behaviour, possibly over many years, in which particular incidents may carry significance which can sometimes be obvious to an observer but to which the victim has become inured. What was important was that the type of abuse being alleged was made clear to the individual who is said to be the perpetrator.

An intense focus on particular and specified incidents may be a counterproductive exercise. It carried the risk of obscuring the serious nature of harm perpetrated in a pattern of behaviour. This was the issue highlighted in the final report of the expert panel to the Ministry of Justice: ‘Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases’ (June 2020).

Hayden J considered that Scott Schedules had severe limitations in this particular sphere as to render them both ineffective and frequently unsuitable. The subtleties of human behaviour are not easily receptive to the confinement and constraint of a Schedule.

Full judgment available at: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2021/4.html

A Local Authority v JK and W  (Adoption: Notification of Father and Relatives) [2021] EWHC 33 (Fam)

In the High Court (Family Division): Mr Justice Peel

-A case concerning whether the father and maternal grandparents ought to be notified of a child’s birth or subsequent adoption proceedings.

The proceedings concerned W, who was 10 months old at the time of the hearing. The Mother (M) decided to relinquish W for adoption before he was born because she believed she was unable to provide the care he required. She did not wish for the Father (F) or any member of the wider families, to be informed of W’s birth or the adoption proceedings, or to be considered as possible carers.

On 8th September 2020, the Local Authority applied for:

i. an order under FPR Part 19 and rule 14.21 endorsing its decision not to disclose W’s existence to F in proposed adoption proceedings or at all; and

ii. an order under the inherent jurisdiction endorsing its decision not to disclose his existence to maternal grandparents.

These applications were supported by M but opposed by the Guardian.

M met F in 2016 and F is about 10 years older than M. F and M had an on/off casual relationship for 3 ½ years.

M became pregnant in 2018 but chose to terminate the pregnancy. Having made that decision, but before the medical procedure, she informed F whose response was to block her on social media. She concealed the pregnancy and the termination from her family.

In December 2019, M again found out she was pregnant but concealed the pregnancy from F. Having decided to terminate the pregnancy, she attended a clinic in January 2020 but discovered that she was beyond the legal time limit for abortion and the procedure could not take place

Shortly thereafter, M contacted the Local Authority to express her for her child to be adopted. From that point onwards, the Local Authority commenced its planning with a clear direction towards adoption.

On 19th February 2020, W was born. On the subsequent completion of the birth certificate, F was not named and accordingly does not have parental responsibility. Consistent with M’s wishes, W was immediately placed by the Local Authority with foster carers.

Rule 14.21, as amended by SI 2020/135, was set out:

Notice to fathers without parental responsibility

“Where no proceedings have started an adoption agency or local authority may ask the court for directions on the need to give a father without parental responsibility notice of the intention to place a child for adoption”.

The explanatory notes to the SI explain that the change was effected to clarify that directions under rule 14.21 FPR 2010 could be given by the Family Court as well as the High Court.

There was, however, no rule specifically designed for non-notification application in respect of close relatives. The consequence was rather unsatisfactory as frequently a Local Authority will seek directions both in respect of the father without parental responsibility and close family. The position is that the application in respect of the putative father should be made to the Family Court under Rule 14.21 whereas the application in respect of close relatives should be made to the Family Division of the High Court under the inherent jurisdiction. Peel J suggested that the Rules Committee may wish to look at Rule 14.21 to consider whether it could be enlarged to include other persons, such as close family members.

The Court cited Cases A, B and C [2020] EWCA Civ 41. These three appeals concerned babies whose mothers concealed their pregnancies and did not want the fathers and other relatives to know of the births. The question was whether the local authorities and the court should notify the fathers or relatives before plans for the children’s future are made and put into effect.

Peter Jackson LJ considered that, for social workers and courts, these were not easy decisions. They had to be made without delay, on incomplete information, and in the knowledge of the profound consequences for everyone concerned. The law aimed to distinguish those cases where a ‘fast-track’ adoption without notification of relatives is lawful from the majority of cases where the profound significance of the decision for the child demands that any realistic alternatives to adoption are given proper consideration.

The principles governing decisions as to whether a putative father or a relative should be informed of the existence of a child who might be adopted was summarised as follows:

  1. The law allows for ‘fast-track’ adoption with the consent of all those with parental responsibility, so in some cases the mother alone. Where she opposes notification being given to the child’s father or relatives her right to respect for her private life is engaged and can only be infringed where it is necessary to do so to protect the interests of others.
  2. The profound importance of the adoption decision for the child and potentially for other family members is clearly capable of supplying a justification for overriding the mother’s request. Whether it does so will depend upon the individual circumstances of the case.
  3. The decision should be prioritised, and the process characterised by urgency and thoroughness.
  4. The decision-maker’s first task is to establish the facts as clearly as possible, mindful of the often limited and one-sided nature of the information available. The confidential relinquishment of a child for adoption is an unusual event and the reasons for it must be respectfully scrutinised so that the interests of others are protected. In fairness to those other individuals, the account that is given by the person seeking confidentiality cannot be taken at face value. All information that can be discovered without compromising confidentiality should therefore be gathered and a first-hand account from the person seeking confidentiality will normally be sought. The investigation should enable broad conclusions to be drawn about the relative weight to be given to the factors that must inform the decision.
  5. Once the facts have been investigated the task is to strike a fair balance between the various interests involved. The welfare of the child is an important factor but not the paramount consideration.
  6. There is no single test for distinguishing between cases in which notification should and should not be given but the case law shows that these factors will be relevant when reaching a decision:
    1. Parental responsibility.
    2. Article 8 rights.
    3. The substance of the relationships.
    4. The likelihood of a family placement being a realistic alternative to adoption.
    5. The physical, psychological or social impact on the mother or on others of notification being given.
    6. Cultural and religious factors.
    7. The availability and durability of the confidential information.
    8. The impact of delay.
    9. Any other relevant matters.
  1. It has rightly been said that the maintenance of confidentiality is exceptional, and highly exceptional where a father has parental responsibility or where there is family life under Article 8. However, exceptionality is not in itself a test or a short cut; rather it is a reflection of the fact that the profound significance of adoption for the child and considerations of fairness to others means that the balance will often fall in favour of notification. But the decision on whether confidentiality should be maintained can only be made by striking a fair balance between the factors that are present in the individual case.

The Local Authority and M pursued broadly the same case:

  1. W is now 10 months old. To notify F and/or wider family members, and embark on the resultant inquiries and investigations, would inevitably lead to a delay before his future is settled.
  2. The prospective adopters have indicated that they are presently still willing to be considered, even if notification takes place, but they make no guarantees for the future if there is significant delay.
  3. M’s views are clear. She wishes for W to be adopted, and for the facts of her pregnancy, the birth, and his adoption to be kept confidential and not notified to F or the wider families.
  4. The impact on M of notification to F would be deeply damaging. She would suffer very considerable anxiety and would be exposed to a significant risk of mental health deterioration. She continues to feel anxious and overwhelmed and experiences suicidal thoughts.
  5. The relationship of F and M was at its highest a string of casual liaisons and not one of real substance. M says: “Looking back, I can now see that my relationship with [F] was abusive although not physically abusive”, although little specific detail is given of F’s behaviour to M.
  6. F is not a realistic potential carer. He lives with his parents, has an irregular income and was a drug user when M knew him. His reaction to the pregnancy in 2018 suggests he would have no interest in W. There is some suggestion of mental health issues, although no details are given.
  7. M’s wider family are not likely to be potential alternative carers. Her mother is 58 and in full-time employment. Her father, aged 67, is retired but works part-time. M has a difficult relationship with her parents and considers that there is a risk of a complete breakdown between them.
  8. Similarly, F’s parents do not represent a realistic alternative. His mother has diagnosed schizophrenia and is cared for by her husband. She and her husband are said to be in financial difficulties.

The Guardian’s position was that W’s Article 8 rights entitled him to exploration of the possibility of being cared for by, or knowing, his birth family; the relationship between M and F was not so limited as to justify non-notification; the maternal grandparents could not be entirely ruled out as cares at this stage, although the paternal grandparents may be less viable; F’s personal difficulties were not such as to rule him out as a potential carer; and alternatives to adoption could not be excluded at this stage.

The Court refused the Local Authority’s applications and concluded that F should be identified and notified, and the wider families considered, for the following reasons:

  1. There was an unacceptable delay in issuing the application until W was about 7 months old.
  2. The evidence presented about F was limited but not sufficient for him to be excluded on a summary basis from being a possible carer, or if not a carer, from playing some other more limited role in W’s life. In the circumstances of the case, to proceed to adoption without conducting a thorough inquiry into his circumstances, permitting him to advance a case as to how he might make a meaningful contribution to W’s life and permitting him to put forward options which fall short of adoption, would be disproportionate and unjust.
  3. The evidence did not justify the maternal grandparents or (conceivable, albeit rather less likely) the paternal grandparents being summarily excluded from consideration at this stage, whether as carers or as people whom W should have the opportunity of seeing, and with whom he may benefit from developing a relationship.
  4. M’s relationship with her parents did not appear to be irredeemably broken down.
  5. The relationship between M and F was casual but it lasted for some 3 ½ years. It was not wholly insubstantial.
  6. There is a lingering concern that if M at some point were to tell her parents (or perhaps a friend) about the birth and adoption, it is possible that F and his family would in turn find out.
  7. There is the possibility that the prospective adoptive parents might elect to withdraw from the process.
  8. Whilst the Court accepted M was experiencing considerable distress and anxiety, it considered that such appeared to be primarily a consequence of the birth and giving her son up for adoption rather than the non-notification proceedings per se. The Court concluded that the impact on M, while distressing and unsettling, was unlikely to be disastrous and Peel J hoped and expected that proper support would be offered by the Local Authority.
  9. The Court considered that a determination in the Local Authority’s favour would inevitably lead to a total severance of W’s relationship with his birth families, without any of them (bar M) having any say or being considered beyond the merest superficiality. Should this come to the attention of F and/or wider family at some later date, they would legitimately complain of having been completely written out of W’s welfare decision making.

Peel J concluded his judgment by suggesting some lessons for the future in non-notification cases, namely, that in a case of this nature, a Local Authority should ensure that it explains carefully, and sensitively, to a mother every staging post of the proposed adoption process and the non-notification procedure, setting out the competing factors and considerations.

The Court considered that an application made 7 months after birth was an “utterly unacceptable period of delay”. If an application is pursued swiftly and granted on the merits, then the Local Authority and a mother will have early certainty which will enable swift planning and progress to adoption. If, however, the application is pursued urgently but rejected, then little time will have been lost in pursuing adoption proceedings in the usual way. Put simply, everyone will know where they stand at the outset.

Peel J reiterated Peter Jackson LJ’s comments at paragraph 86 of Cases A, B and C, that the decision should be taken “at a very early stage”.

-Full judgment available at: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2021/33.html