Regina v B County Council, ex parte P: CA 1991

Application was made for judicial review of a decision of the magistrate in proceedings under the Children and Young Persons Act. The issue arose as to whether or not young children should be compelled to give evidence.
Held: The decision of the magistrate not to compel the witness was not reviewable.
Butler-Sloss LJ said that the issue depended upon whether attendance would be oppressive, but added: ‘Research has shown the adverse effects upon some children of the requirement to give evidence in cases of sexual abuse. In cases of young children, such harm may well be inferred: see the Report of the Advisory Group on Video Evidence 1989. The introduction of the Order of 1990 [I interpolate that permits the giving of hearsay evidence] clearly envisages an alternative to oral evidence and cross-examination and to make it possible for children making allegations of, inter alia, sexual abuse to do so without the additional stress of a court hearing. The philosophy behind the Children Act 1989 would be thwarted by the ability of the alleged abuser himself being able to require the attendance of the child at court. A court should be very cautious in requiring the attendance of a child in these cases, reinforced as it must be by considerations as to how to deal with a refusal to give evidence after the issue of the summons.’


Butler-Sloss LJ


[1991] 1 WLR 221

Cited by:

CitedIn re W (Children) (Family proceedings: Evidence) (Abuse: Oral Evidence) SC 3-Mar-2010
The court considered the approach to be taken when considering whether to order a child’s attendance at court in care proceedings. It was argued that the starting point of assuming that a child should not attend, failed to respect the human right to . .
CitedLM (A Child) v Medway Council and others CA 19-Jan-2007
Smith LJ set out the approach when a court considered asking a child to attend at court to give evidence in family proceedings: ‘The correct starting point . . is that it is undesirable that a child should have to give evidence in care proceedings . .
CitedRe W (Children) CA 9-Feb-2010
. .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 15 May 2022; Ref: scu.406125