Court Report: Judge issues guidance on applications to revoke freeing orders

Coram Children's Legal Centre
Monday, May 13, 2013

Case name A City Council v DC & Others [2013] EWHC 8 (Fam)
Case number FB12C00092
Judge Mrs. Justice Eleanor King
Location Royal Courts of Justice

King J was asked to give guidance on how to manage applications to revoke freeing orders in situations where children had been left “statutory orphans” after not being placed successfully for adoption.

The child in the case had been placed in an adoptive family with his birth sister, but when the placement broke down he was moved to foster care for five years. He had not had any contact with his birth parents since 2006. His mother had chosen not to play a part in the proceedings, and his father had not responded to attempts to contact him.

It was therefore agreed by all parties that the court had the inherent jurisdiction to revoke the freeing order. It was held that since the child was a statutory orphan, only the local authority had parental responsibility as the freeing order extinguishes the parents’ parental responsibility.

King J gave guidance that all such applications should be made to the High Court and even former parents who made a declaration under Section 18 (6) of the Adoption Act 1976 should be respondents to the application.

King J made clear that legal aid would not be available under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 for former parents in this situation, unless the case can be regarded as “exceptional”.

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