S v S; in re S (An Infant, by her Guardian ad Litem the Official Solicitor to the Supreme Court) v S; W v Official Solicitor (Acting as Guardian ad Litem for a Male Infant Named PHW): HL 1970

Lord Hodson said: ‘The interests of justice in the abstract are best served by the ascertainment of the truth and their must be few cases where the interests of children can be shown to be best served by the suppression of truth. Scientific evidence of blood groups has been available since the early part of this century and the progress of serology has been so rapid that in many cases certainty or near certainty can be reached in the ascertainment of paternity. Why should the risk be taken of a judicial decision being made which is factually wrong and may later be demonstrated to be wrong?’
Lord Reid spoke of section 26 of the 1969 Act: ‘That means that the presumption of legitimacy now merely determines the onus of proof. Once evidence has been led it must be weighed without using the presumption as a make-weight in the scale for legitimacy. So even weak evidence against legitimacy must prevail if there is not other evidence to counterbalance it. The presumption will only come in at that stage in the very rare case of the evidence being so evenly balanced that the court is unable to reach a decision on it. I cannot recollect ever having seen or heard of a case of any kind where the court could not reach a decision on the evidence before it.’
and ‘I must now examine the present legal position with regard to blood tests. There is no doubt that a person of full age and capacity cannot be ordered to undergo a blood test against his will. In my view, the reason is not that he ought not be required to furnish evidence which may tell against him. By discovery of documents and in other ways the law often does this. The real reason is that English law goes to great lengths to protect a person of full age and capacity from interference with his personal liberty.’
Lord Hodson, Lord Reid
[1972] AC 24, (1970) FLR Rep 619
Family Law Reform Act 1969 20 26
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedLondon Borough of Lewisham v D and Others FD 29-Mar-2010
The local authority was investigating allegations involving the family history of children in their care. They sought disclosure by the respondent police authority of the results DNA comparison tests to assist their investigations. The court . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 17 June 2021; Ref: scu.418422