In re W (Children): CA 25 Jul 2014

Appeal against an order made after an agreement within the family that the children should live with the paternal grandmother.
Orse In re W (Parental Agreement with Local Authority)
The mother had placed her three children with their paternal grandmother in response to local authority concerns which the authority indicated might otherwise lead to care proceedings. A written ‘agreement’ was made between the local authority, the mother and the grandmother ‘to ensure that [the mother] agrees for the children to remain in the care of [the paternal grandmother] whilst further assessments are completed’. Thereafter the authority decided what contact the mother might have with the children but no further assessments were completed. The mother asked for her children back and, when this was refused, applied for a residence order. The trial judge refused an adjournment in order for the mother to be properly assessed and made a residence order in favour of the grandmother.
Held: The mother’s appeal was allowed on the ground that the judge should have directed an assessment.
Munby P expressed his considerable concern that the local authority had treated the ‘agreement’ as authorising them to control the mother and her children without bringing care proceedings or undertaking the obligations entailed in section 20 accommodation – indeed nobody knew whether the authority did or (more probably) did not regard themselves as accommodating the children under section 20.
Tomlinson LJ entertained ‘grave reservations about the manner in which section 20 has here been used, if it has’. The ‘agreement’, which began by proclaiming that it was not a legal agreement but then said that it might be used in court as evidence if needed, was in his view ‘almost comical in the manner in which it apparently proclaims that it has been entered into under something approaching duress’
Sir James Munby P FD, Black, Tomlinson LJJ
[2014] EWCA Civ 1065, [2015] 1 FLR 949
Children Act 1989 20
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedWilliams and Another v London Borough of Hackney SC 18-Jul-2018
On arrest for shoplifting a 12 year old said he had been doing so to get food, and that he had been hit with a belt by his father. Investigation revealed the home to be dangerous, and all eight children were removed to the care of the LA. The . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 07 August 2021; Ref: scu.535291