West Law Report

Judge used wrong adjective

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on November 9, 2008

From The Times
October 27, 2008
Judge used wrong adjective

Court of Appeal
Published October 27, 2008
In re S (a Child: Adoption)

It was wrong to focus on whether a carer was a “potential” rather than a “prospective” adopter when considering whether to revoke a placement order placing a child for adoption.

The Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Thorpe, Lord Justice Keene and Mr Justice Hedley) so held on October 7, 2008, when allowing an appeal brought by the mother of a boy, S, aged 7, from the dismissal by Judge Wade, at Swindon County Court, on April 25, 2008, of her application under section 24(2)(a) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 for leave to revoke a placement order regarding S.

LORD JUSTICE THORPE said that the judge had found that the child was with a foster carer with a view to adoption. He had found that although the carer had not committed to adopting the child, she had not precluded it, which meant that she was a potential adopter and that meant that the child had been placed for adoption.

That pragmatic approach was a reckless one. The judge had focused on the wrong adjective.

Section 18(5) of the 2002 Act required him to focus on a “prospective” adopter while he had chosen to focus on a “potential” adopter. Those two adjectives had distinctly different dictionary meanings.

It followed that the child was not deemed to have been placed for adoption for the purposes of section 24 of the 2002 Act. The judge had reached the wrong conclusion in law.

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