Aidan Vine KC in H and J (Placement Orders) [2024] EWCA Civ 429


15th May 2024 | Cases


Aidan Vine KC led Carolyn Bland of Deans Court Chambers in H and J (Placement Orders) [2024] EWCA Civ 429; an appeal by mother against placement orders made in respect of her two youngest children. Aidan represented the First Respondent Local Authority (LA). 

The mother appealed against placement orders made in respect of her two youngest children H (aged 5) and J (aged 5). In March 2022, the LA started care proceedings in respect of H and J and their three elder siblings. H and J were placed together in foster care but still enjoyed regular contact with their elder siblings. The issue for the court at first instance was whether H and J should be placed for adoption or in a long-term foster placement. Both the LA team manager and the children’s guardian agreed, and the recorder at first instance concurred, that adoption was required for H and J and that nothing less would do even though it could mean losing contact with their elder siblings. A placement order for adoption was granted with a provision that ‘the search is limited to six months, after which, if the boys have not been placed, the local authority must return the matter to court.’

On appeal counsel for the mother submitted that there had been insufficient up to date evidence before the recorder regarding H and J’s relationship with their elder siblings and that the relationship with their siblings was of such importance that it outweighed all other factors, thus making the recorder’s decision wrong. Counsel also argued that the recorder was wrong in law to seek to limit the orders by inviting the LA to apply to discharge the placement orders after 6 months.  Much of the appeal focussed on whether the proviso was or was not a condition to the placement orders.

The Court of Appeal was unpersuaded by these submissions. The Court of Appeal found that the recorder had carried out a careful and thorough analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the realistic options for the boys. This included a focused consideration of their relationship with their siblings. As for the issue of the 6 months time limit, the Court of Appeal found that the recorder was not seeking to impose a condition on the order but rather reflecting what had been agreed by the local authority.

Appeal dismissed.


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