North Yorkshire County Council v SA and others: CA 1 Jul 2003

The child was taken to hospital with injuries which the doctors concluded were non-accidental. The identity of the abuser was in doubt.
Held: The court set out to identify the procedures in cases involving suspected non-accidental injuries where there was insufficient identification of the abuser. There are two parts to the threshold test, the harm or likelihood of harm and the attributable condition. ‘the court has . . to recognise and have regard to the differing interests of the adults and the child, Parliament has provided a two limb threshold which requires to be satisfied before the court has the right to consider the welfare of the child. The first is [that] the child was injured and suffered significant harm. In relation to the second limb, the attributable condition, it seems to me that the two most likely outcomes in ‘uncertain perpetrator’ cases are as follows. The first is that there is sufficient evidence for the court positively to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators. Second, if there is not sufficient evidence to make such a finding, the court has to apply the test set out by Lord Nicholls as to whether there is a real possibility or likelihood that one or more of a number of people with access to the child might have caused the injury to the child. For this purpose, real possibility and likelihood can be treated as the same test. ‘ The appeal was allowed.
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P
[2003] EWCA Civ 839, [2003] 2 FLR 849, [2003] 3 FCR 118
Children Act 1989 31
England and Wales
CitedIn re H and R (Minors) (Child Sexual Abuse: Standard of Proof) HL 14-Dec-1995
Evidence allowed – Care Application after Abuse
Children had made allegations of serious sexual abuse against their step-father. He was acquitted at trial, but the local authority went ahead with care proceedings. The parents appealed against a finding that a likely risk to the children had still . .
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 . .
CitedLancashire County Council and Another v B and Others; Lancashire County Council v A HL 16-Mar-2000
A seven month old child had been injured, but it was not possible to establish whether this had taken place whilst with her parents or with a child minder. The Council brought care proceedings also for the minder’s own child B.
Held: Even . .
CitedRe G (Care proceedings: split trials) CA 2001
In a situation where an application is made for a care order, and the threshold criteria are met, but the court cannot decide which carer is responsible, the preferable interpretation is that in such cases the court is able to proceed at the welfare . .
CitedRe B (Non-accidental injury: compelling medical evidence) CA 2002
A child had died. Care proceedings were begun for the elder child. It was not clear just who had been responsible for the death.
Held: There were two questions. First, who perpetrated the injuries recorded by the experts? The answer to that . .

Cited by:
CitedIn re K (Children) (Non-accidental injuries: Perpetrator: New Evidence) CA 27-Aug-2004
The children had been taken into care, and freed for adoption. The mother appealed saying the blame for non-accidental injury was misplaced. The court had not thought her responsible for the non-accidental injuries, but she had been unwilling to . .
CitedLancashire County Council v R (A Minor) and others FD 4-Dec-2008
The local authority sought a care order, alleging serious physical abuse of the child. The mother said that any injuries had been inflicted by the father. The father said that the cause was the mother.
Held: The injuries were not likely to . .
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 . .
CitedIn re L (A Child: Media Reporting) FD 18-Apr-2011
The local authority had intervened on suspecting physical abuse. L was placed with the maternal grandmother who took L to Ireland before care proceedings were commenced. The Irish court found him to have been wrongfully removed, and orders were made . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 03 March 2021; Ref: scu.184263