Council told evidence offered was inadequate

Re C (children) (residential assessment) (4 July 2001): This was
a stark warning to local authorities that they must prepare their
case carefully, if they seek to oppose an application under section
38(6) for a family residential assessment.

The court of appeal held that it was important to give proper
weight to the benefits to the children subject to the application
from such assessment, compared with the wider responsibility of the
authority generally. It was important to look at the impact of the
substantial spend compared to the authority’s ability to provide
other services to other children. But in the particular case it was
accepted that there was only one appropriate centre for the

The authority had failed to put any adequate evidence before the
court and such statements as had been made had been fundamentally
and dangerously misleading. Natural justice had to apply to the
family law system. A local authority had to understand that if it
wanted to persuade a judge that a direction for residential
assessment constituted disproportionate expenditure on a single
family, the authority had to present a case prepared in accordance
with ordinary rules and practices relating to the filing of
statements and the conduct at the trial or fixture. The evidence
before the court had been quite insufficient to begin to discharge
the burden on the authority to prove a money defence on an
application which had been found to be necessary. The authority was
ordered to fund the residential assessment sought.

Richard White

White and Sherwin Solicitors

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