In re W (An Infant): HL 1971

The court considered the reasonability of parental disagreement in applications for adoption: ‘Two reasonable parents can perfectly reasonably come to opposite conclusions on the same set of facts without forfeiting their title to be regarded as reasonable. The question in any given case is whether a parental veto comes within the band of possible reasonable decisions and not whether it is right or mistaken. Not every reasonable exercise of judgment is right, and not every mistaken exercise of judgment is unreasonable. There is a band of decisions within which no court should seek to replace the individual’s judgment with his own.’ and ‘. . the test is reasonableness and not anything else. It is not culpability. It is not indifference. It is not failure to discharge parental duties. It is reasonableness, and reasonableness in the context of the totality of the circumstances. But, although welfare per se is not the test, the fact that a reasonable parent does pay regard to the welfare of his child must enter into the question of reasonableness as a relevant factor. It is relevant in all cases if and to the extent that a reasonable parent would take it into account. It is decisive in those cases where a reasonable parent must so regard it.’


Lord Hailsham LC


[1971] AC 682


England and Wales

Cited by:

DistinguishedRe M (A Minor) (Care Orders: Threshold Conditions) HL 7-Jun-1994
The father had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the child’s mother. Application was made for the child to be made subject to a care order. The father appealed refusal of an order.
Held: When an application was made on the . .
CitedMalekshad v Howard De Walden Estates Limited CA 23-May-2001
The applicant sought the leasehold enfranchisement of two leasehold properties. They were contained in separate leases, but the property had been treated as one for some time. A part of one property extended under part of the other. The claim was . .
CitedDown Lisburn Health and Social Services Trust and Another v H and Another HL 12-Jul-2006
The House considered when adoption law would allow an adoption without the consent of the birth parent where there had been some continuing contact between that parent and the child.
Held: (Baroness Hale dissenting) The appeal against the . .
CitedRe C (a Minor) (Adoption: Parental Agreement: Contact) CA 1993
Where adoption is to be considered against the will of the parent, the court should recognise when asking whether the opposition was unreasonable that the test is objective and supposes that this person is endowed with a mind and temperament capable . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.182988