In re M and R (Child abuse: Expert Evidence): CA 21 May 1996

On an application for a care order the judge found there was a real possibility that sexual abuse had occurred but the evidence was not sufficient to prove the allegations to the requisite standard. The threshold criteria were met on another ground. The children had suffered emotional harm at the hands of the mother and her partner and were likely to suffer significant harm in the future. He made an interim care order and adjourned the case to consider whether to return the children to the mother and her partner. The local authority appealed against the judge’s refusal to make a care order, saying the judge had erred by not taking the allegations of sexual abuse into account at the welfare stage.
Held: In part, it would be extraordinary if Parliament intended that, in one and the same case, evidence insufficient to satisfy section 31(2)(a) should be sufficient nevertheless to satisfy section 1(3)(e). The court drew attention to the unsatisfactory results which could follow in practice were this so. The 1972 Act made expert opinion on the ultimate issue admissible, giving effect in section 3 to the 1970 Report of the Law Reform Committee on Evidence of Opinion and Expert Evidence that ‘a statement by an expert witness … shall not be inadmissible upon the ground only that it expressed his opinion on the issue in the proceedings …’. Appeal dismissed.

Butler-Sloss, Henry and Saville LJJ
[1996] 2 FLR 195, [1996] 4 All ER 239, [1996] EWCA Civ 1317, [1996] Fam Law 541, [1996] 2 FCR 617
Bailii, Bailii
Children Act 1989 31(2)(a) 1(3)(e), Civil Evidence Act 1972 3
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedIn re O and N (Minors); In re B (Minors) (Care: Preliminary hearing) HL 3-Apr-2003
The appeals were from conflicting decisions in care applications where one or other or both parents were guilty of lack of care, but there was no evidence to say which was responsible.
Held: The threshold criteria had been met, and the court . .
CitedDesigners Guild Limited v Russell Williams (Textiles) Limited PatC 14-Jan-1998
The defendant denied that it had copied the plaintiff’s designs.
Held: There was sufficient evidence of copying. It was wrong to dissect a work, but rather the court should look at the matter as a whole. . .
CitedIn re B (Children) (Care Proceedings: Standard of Proof) (CAFCASS intervening) HL 11-Jun-2008
Balance of probabilities remains standard of proof
There had been cross allegations of abuse within the family, and concerns by the authorities for the children. The judge had been unable to decide whether the child had been shown to be ‘likely to suffer significant harm’ as a consequence. Having . .
CitedIn re S-B (Children) (Care proceedings: Standard of proof) SC 14-Dec-2009
A child was found to have bruising consistent with physical abuse. Either or both parents might have caused it, but the judge felt it likely that only one had, that he was unable to decide which, and that they were not so serious that he had to say . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Children, Evidence

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.180422