Oxfordshire County Council v X and Others: CA 27 May 2010

The LA, the guardian and adoptive parents appealed against an order that they should provide to the parents an annual photograph of the child. They contended that an image should only be made available to be viewed at the authority’s offices annually.
Held: The order was discharged. The judge had erred in law in reaching his decision, which was ex tempore, and the appeal court was free to look at it again.
Lord Neuberger MR said: ‘it will not usually be in the best interests of an adopted child to impose on her adoptive parents an obligation in relation to contact which they are unwilling to agree to. Indeed, the imposition of such an obligation is extremely unusual.’ The judge had not made reference to this in his judgment.
The judge’s task was to apply the 1989 Act checklist against the background of the jurisprudence. The question for him was not whether provision of photographs would create or increase the risk of the natural parents tracing the child. The essential question was whether the adoptive parents’ fear of such a risk was unreasonable in the sense that it had no reasonable basis.
‘The judge was required to consider what was in the best interests of the child, as the paramount consideration, in accordance with section 1 of the 1989 Act. It is beyond argument that the welfare of so young a child in the early stages of her adoption depended upon the stability and security of her new parents, the adoptive parents. To undermine that stability by fuelling or failing to heed their fears that their daughter’s natural parents might seek to trace her is to damage her welfare.’

Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury MR, Moses LJ, Munby LJ
[2010] EWCA Civ 581, [2010] 2 FCR 355, [2010] Fam Law 790
Adoption and Children Act 2002 46(2)(a) 67(1), Children Act 1989 193)
England and Wales
CitedRe C (A Minor) (Adoption Order: Conditions) HL 1988
The House considered the question of conditions to be applied to any continued contact with a child after adoption. Lord Ackner said: ‘The cases rightly stress that in normal circumstances it is desirable that there should be a complete break, but . .
CitedRe J (Adoption: Non-Patrial) CA 1998
The court considered an adoption in Pakistan which was valid in Pakistan but would not be recognised here. The natural father and the adoptive father were from the same family. The adoptive parents were unable to have a children of their own, and . .
CitedG v G (Minors: Custody appeal) CA 1985
A court should take great care before setting aside a decision of a judge which had involved the exercise of a judicial discretion. The court considered the duty of an appellate court in a children case: ‘What this court should seek to do is to . .
CitedPiglowska v Piglowski HL 24-Jun-1999
No Presumption of House for both Parties
When looking to the needs of parties in a divorce, there is no presumption that both parties are to be left able to purchase alternative homes. The order of sub-clauses in the Act implies nothing as to their relative importance. Courts should be . .
CitedIn Re T (Minors) (Adopted Children: Contact) CA 8-Aug-1995
A half-sister had been assured that when her half-sister was adopted she would be given annual reports as to her progress. No report was provided. When she enquired and complained, she was told that the adopters had changed their minds and that it . .
CitedIn Re T (A Minor) (Contact Order); In Re T (Adoption: Contact) CA 13-Jan-1995
A contact order which was not strictly necessary should not be made in adoption proceedings. Arrangements for contact should not be ‘imposed’ upon the adoptive parents but should be ‘left to their good sense so that they could be trusted to do what . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.416165