Alec Samuels considers when a course of action relating to a child may be taken without going to court

When should a dispute between the local authority, the parents and the foster parents be taken to the judge?

Suppose a child was suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, such as violence or neglect, and they are placed in the care of the local authority as a ‘looked after’ child; then placed with foster parents – perhaps with a view to adoption.

A dispute arises between the natural parents – or perhaps the foster parents – and the local authority which proposes to take a particular course of action. When can the local authority do what it likes; and when should the matter be taken to court? 

The family court has an inherent jurisdiction to protect the child and the statutory pow...

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