Re ET (Serious Injuries: Standard of Proof): FD 2003

The court heard a care application in which the baby had sustained skull, brain and other injuries alleged to be at the hands of her parents.
Held: The standard of proof was the civil standard of the balance of probabilities and directed himself according to the principles in re H. ‘Although the result is much the same, this [the cogency requirement] does not mean that where a serious allegation is in issue the standard of proof required is higher. It means only that the inherent probability or improbability of an event is itself a matter to be taken into account when weighing the probabilities and deciding whether, on balance, the event occurred.
So it may very well be that, in looking at these more recent dicta, one is (as Miss Ball put it) somewhat ‘dancing on the head of a pin’; and no counsel has gone so far as to submit to me that, in a serious case such as this, it is now the criminal standard which should in terms be directly applied.
I therefore propose, in applying the civil standard and the re H (Minors)(Sexual Abuse: Standard of Proof) [1996] AC 563 . . cogency test here, to have well in mind the dicta in the latter two cases just cited. So, whenever in this judgment I ‘find’ something occurred, or expressed myself ‘satisfied’ or ‘persuaded’ of some fact or other, it is in the light of the authorities which I have just been discussing and on the basis that, in this very serious case, the difference between the civil and the criminal standards of proof is ‘largely illusory’.’


Bodey J


[2003] 2 FLR 1205


AppliedIn 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 . .
CitedB v Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary QBD 5-Apr-2000
The defendant appealed the making of a sex offender order under 1998 Act. The justices had found that the defendant was a sex offender within section 2(1)(a) and that he had acted on a number of occasions in a way which brought him within section . .

Cited by:

DoubtedIn re LU (A Child); In re LB (A Child) (Serious Injury: Standard of Proof); re U (A Child) (Department for Education and Skills intervening) CA 14-May-2004
In each case, the other parent appealed care orders where she had been found to have injured her children. In each case the sole evidence was the injury to the child’s health and expert medical evidence. The cases were referred following the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Evidence, Children

Updated: 13 May 2022; Ref: scu.196918