The most senior family law judge in England and Wales has ruled
that the successful appeal of Angela Cannings should not
significantly affect child care cases in the civil courts.
President of the Family Division Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
rejected calls from Cannings’ lawyers that an increased standard of
proof be required by judges being asked by councils to decide
whether parents or carers were harming their children.
She described the arguments as mistaken, adding that judges could
still find “on the balance of probabilities” whether a child was in
danger or not.
She added that there may have been a tendency to “overestimate” the
impact of the Cannings case in family cases and, even where there
was disagreement between experts, a judge could still find for one
Local authorities’ responsibilities to protect the child had not
been changed by the Cannings judgement, she added.
Her rulings came after the Court of Appeal was asked to reconsider
two cases where young children had been taken away from their
mother amid fears they could be harmed.
Lawyers in both cases challenged the medical evidence, citing the