A v Liverpool City Council: HL 1981

Though the child was subject to a care order in favour of the local authority, a wardship order was sought.
Held: Once a care order had been made, whether final or interim, the court was effectively faced with a choice and not a choice which was in any sense attractive. It could either make a care order whether or not it agreed with the care plan, or it could decline to make a care order. If it declined to make a care order then the child would not be subject to any form of intervention subject to the ongoing proceedings but would return to the care of her mother in this case. If the court made an interim care order the child would be subject to the local authority’s interim care plan.
The prerogative jurisdiction of the High Court was ousted by the care order, but not the court’s inherent powers and its power under section 9. It was the child’s welfare which was the proper yardstick for any decision. If the effect sought was properly within the local authority’s discretion under the care order the wardship would lapse, but the wardship might properly be used to fill in any necessary powers otherwise unavailable. The court would decline to supervise the way in which the local authority exercised its statutory discretion. The wardship jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to children should not be used to circumvent or challenge the statutory powers and duties of local authorities in relation to children in their care


[1982] AC 363, Times 21-May-1981, (1981) 2 FLR 222


Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1949 9(2)


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedA (a Patient) v A Health Authority and Others; In re J (a Child); Regina (S) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another CA 24-Jan-2002
The case asked how cases involving disputes as to the care of children, and of the treatment of adults claimed to be mentally incompetent. Where the issues were solely ones of public law, then they should be heard by way of judicial review in the . .
CitedIn re W (a Minor) (Wardship: Jurisdiction) HL 1985
Relatives of a child who was in local authority care disagreed with the authority’s plans for her future.
Held: They could not challenge them by seeking a determination on the merits in wardship.
Lord Scarman referred to Liverpool v A and . .
CitedRe A Ward of Court FD 4-May-2017
Ward has no extra privilege from Police Interview
The court considered the need to apply to court in respect of the care of a ward of the court when the Security services needed to investigate possible terrorist involvement of her and of her contacts. Application was made for a declaration as to . .
CitedRe MN (Adult) CA 7-May-2015
The parties disputed the care of MN, a young adult without capacity.
Held: Munby P gave four reasons why the Court of Protection should not embark on the kind of process for which the parents contended: first, it is not its proper function to . .
CitedN v ACCG and Others SC 22-Mar-2017
The local authority and a young man’s parents disputed his continued care, he having substantial incapacities. The parents wanted assistance caring for him on visits home. The LA declined to fund that support. The LA now argued that the CoP had not . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 24 July 2022; Ref: scu.179819