Kent County Council v G and others: HL 24 Nov 2005

A residential assessment order had been made under the 1989 Act in care proceedings. When the centre recommended a second extension of the assessment, the council refused, saying that the true purpose was not the assessment of the child but the treatment of the mother.
Held: The appeal succeeded: ‘the main purpose of the proposed programme was therapy for the mother in order to give her the opportunity of change so as to become a safe and acceptable carer for Ellie. This purpose, in my opinion, does not come within section 38(6) notwithstanding that the results of the programme would be valuable and influential in enabling the court to decide whether a care order in respect of Ellie should be made and that if the purpose were to be achieved it would very greatly benefit Ellie.’and ‘The question, in my opinion, was not whether what was proposed could be described as an assessment but whether it could properly be described as an assessment of Ellie. The distinction between treatment and assessment may, as Dr Kennedy had said, be an unreal one in the context of a programme of continuing treatment and assessment. But the distinction between treatment of the mother and an assessment of the progress of that treatment on the one hand and an assessment of Ellie on the other hand is a real one.’ (Lord Scott of Foscote)
Baroness Hale of Richmond: ‘the purpose of section 38(6) cannot be to ensure the provision of services either for the child or his family. There is nothing in the 1989 Act which empowers the court hearing care proceedings to order the provision of specific services for anyone.’ and ‘Where the threshold is found or conceded but the proper order is in issue, the welfare checklist is likewise focussed on the present, for example, in section 1(3)(f): ‘how capable each of his parents . . . is of meeting his needs’. The capacity to change, to learn and to develop may well be part of that. But it is still the present capacity with which the court is concerned. It cannot be a proper use of the court’s powers under section 38(6) to seek to bring about change. ‘ and ‘In short, what is directed under section 38(6) must clearly be an examination or assessment of the child, including where appropriate her relationship with her parents, the risk that her parents may present to her, and the ways in which those risks may be avoided or managed, all with a view to enabling the court to make the decisions which it has to make under the Act with the minimum of delay. Any services which are provided for the child and his family must be ancillary to that end. They must not be an end in themselves. ‘
Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Clyde, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Mance
[2005] UKHL 68, Times 25-Nov-2005, [2005] 3 FCR 621, [2006] 1 All ER 706, [2006] 1 AC 576, [2006] 1 FLR 601, [2006] Fam Law 91, [2005] 3 WLR 1166
Bailii, House of Lords
Children Act 1989 38(6)
England and Wales
Appeal fromIn re G (a Child) (Interim Care order: Residential assessment) CA 27-Jan-2004
An elder child had died, and the local authority felt unable to exculpate either the father or the mother. On the birth of this child all three had been brought in for a residential assessment. First one then another extension was sought. The court . .
CitedIn Re C (A Minor) (Interim Care Order: Residential Assessment) HL 29-Nov-1996
The parents were suspected of causing the child non-accidental injury. The court wanted a residential assessment of the family, but the local authority refused, saying it would be too expensive, and would expose the child to continuing risk. The . .
CitedIn the Matter of B (Minors) CA 22-Jul-1998
The court had directed that the parents of the child be offered therapeutic treatment which, it was hoped, would enable their child to be entrusted to their care. The local authority appealed.
Held: The appeal succeeded. Thorpe LJ said that . .
CitedIn Re M (Residential Assessment Directions) FD 23-Sep-1998
When ordering a local authority to pay the costs of residential assessment of mother and child, the court should allow for these factors. It must be assessment not treatment, in long term interests of the child, to enable court to decide and not . .
CitedRe D (Jurisdiction: Programme of Assessment or Therapy) CA 12-May-1999
The parents were dependent on drugs. The guardian ad litem proposed that the authority should fund treatment of the parents and child in a residential unit with assessment. The authority proposed a detoxification programme. The authority appealed an . .
CitedIn re B (Interim care order: Directions) CA 14-Jan-2002
The local authority applied for an interim care order immediately the child, B, was born. A proposal was made for the mother and child to move from the maternity hospital to a residential placement a mother and baby home which provided help in . .
CitedLambeth London Borough Council v S and C and V and J and Legal Services Commission FD 3-May-2005
The council brought care proceedings. A residential assessment was to be ordered. The Council sought an order for the respondent mother who was legally aided to bear a portion of the cost of the assessment. The Legal Services Commission intervened . .
See AlsoIn re G (A Child) CA 20-Jun-2000
G had died. It was then discovered that he had suffered serious abuse before his death (though not actually causing it). M, wanting the return of her other child, now appealed from a fact finding judgment which had failed to identify which of them . .
CitedIn re G (A Child) CA 29-Nov-2000
. .
CitedC (Children), Re (Residential Assessment) CA 4-Jul-2001
. .
CitedC v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council FD 1993
The court allowed a limited period of ‘planned and purposeful delay’ before making a care order. Ward J: ‘We have heard much, as we have prepared for the implementation of the Children Act 1989, about partnership. One of those partnerships is the . .
CitedB County Council v L and Others FD 2002
Whilst under assessment before consideration of a final order, the mother said she had hurt her older child. The hospital was unable to provide 24 hour supervision, and the assessment was terminated. The parents sought an order for an assessment at . .
CitedIn Re J (A Minor) (Child in Care: Medical Treatment) CA 26-Aug-1992
. .
CitedRegina v London Borough of Barnet ex parte G; Regina v London Borough of Lambeth ex parte W; Regina v London Borough of Lambeth ex parte A HL 23-Oct-2003
The applicants sought to oblige the local authority, in compliance with its duties under the 1989 Act, to provide a home for children, and where necessary an accompanying adult.
Held: There were four hurdles for the applicants to cross. They . .

Cited by:
CitedAD and OH (A Child) v Bury Metropolitan Borough Council CA 17-Jan-2006
The claimants, mother and son, sought damages from the respondent after they had commenced care proceedings resulting in the son being taken into temporary care. The authority had wrongly suspected abuse. The boy was later found to suffer brittle . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 05 February 2021; Ref: scu.235290