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News | Thu 26th Nov, 2015
The case concerned what constituted a ‘change of circumstances’ for the purposes of s47 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. When placement orders were made, the children were aged 5 and 7. The local authority’s care plan had been to attempt to find adoptive placements within 6 months, failing which the plan would be long term fostering, in which case the local authority stated it would apply to revoke the placement orders. Two years later, the children were in long term foster care but no application had been made to revoke the placement orders. The foster carer applied for adoption orders. The judge at first instance held that there was no change of circumstances, and the children remaining in foster care was only a ‘maintaining of a position’.
On appeal Tom Restall argued that this was a misdirection in law, as a comparison was required between the facts and expectations at the time of the placement orders and what had in fact occurred. Here the children’s circumstances were not as had been expected. The mother was seeking, in effect, to uphold the care plan, that long term fostering was the right type of placement for the children since no adoptive placement had been found within 6 months. The appeal was allowed and leave to oppose was granted.
The appeal shows the importance of the commitments local authorities make in care plans, and the potential for parents to rely upon them in subsequent proceedings.