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England and Wales Family Court Decisions (High Court Judges)
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Family Court Decisions (High Court Judges) >> A Local Authority v X and Y (Adoption)  EWFC 55 (26 June 2018)
Cite as:  EWFC 55
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Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice
B e f o r e :
|(1) Mrs X|
|(2) Mr X||Applicants|
|- and -|
|(1) A Local Authority|
MS CABEZA (instructed by A Local Authority) appeared on behalf of the First Respondent.
MS CAYOUN (instructed by Bindmans LLP) appeared on behalf of the Second Respondent.
Crown Copyright ©
MRS. JUSTICE THEIS:
"Given the conclusions of the First Tier Tribunal, however, the court may wish to satisfy itself as to the nature and extent of [Z's] family background in [Country G] to the extent that it is relevant to any question before it and indeed, the Secretary of State contends that it would be in the interest of justice for this to occur. There is no reason why such an exercise should not be carried out at least in part with reference to any relevant evidence relating to that subject that was before the First Tier Tribunal."
The list is then given of the documents that were before that Tribunal.
"The second respondent has said that,
(a) he has lost all contact with his parents and has no information as to their present whereabouts.
(b) he initiated a search for his parents through the Red Cross and this did not uncover any information which might lead to the identification of their whereabouts.
(c) there is no information upon which any of the parties could reasonably rely in pursuance of further investigation to identify the whereabouts of his parents and,
(d) the Local Authority has assured the court that if it meets with resistance from either of the applicants or the Young Offenders Institute, it is of the view it may not be possible to carry out its statutory duties to investigate the welfare prior to completion of the annex A report directed it will apply to the court to restore this matter for further directions within seventy-two hours."
"Unless and until fresh information comes to light which is capable of leading to the discovery of the whereabouts of either of the second respondent's parents, the court dispenses with the need to serve notice of the adoption application on his parents."
Relevant Legal Framework and Discussion
"Notwithstanding those conclusions which as a trial judge I am also in a position to make, I accept that you (that is [Z]) is vulnerable particularly in a custodial setting and there are very real concerns for your mental health and wellbeing."
"26. We have spoken with [Z] in depth about this terrible incident. He feels deep shame that he has been associated with a crime such as this and is truly remorseful regarding the choices he made including that he drank alcohol and became highly inebriated that night when he was completely unused to drinking. He has vowed never to drink alcohol again. He has also learnt the hard way to be very careful and wise in his choice of friends. We have encouraged [Z] to follow all advice given to him by his prison case worker and to fully engage with any programmes recommended by them."
"The purpose of the written submissions was to draw to the court's attention any material which was capable of being relevant to the issues which it was required to decide. The sentencing remarks were passed to the court as one of the applicants chose to address the circumstances of the conviction in her evidence, albeit in brief terms. The Secretary of State is content to defer to the judgment of the court as to the relevance of the above material and, indeed, the weight which should be attached to it."
1. Firstly, I accept that his parents cannot be found, that is established on the evidence that is available from the SSHD, the attendances and conclusions reached by the Red Cross with the assistance of the applicants and the Local Authority inquiries. I proceed on that basis in relation to s.52 (1)(a) ACA 2002.
2. Secondly, looking at the wider evidence than that which was available and considered by the First Tier Tribunal, I am satisfied that in broad terms, Z's account of his background in coming to this jurisdiction is generally credible. His lack of knowledge of matters in relation to Country G is supported by his answers to questions in interview, his lack of education and literacy and his social immaturity are all consistent with his account in relation to separation at a very early age. Bearing in mind his age when he was interviewed, the court can look at wider information and particularly, the country information and other material that has been relied on in this hearing, for example, the UNHCR study.
3. The uncertainty around his age has increased Z's vulnerability as has been demonstrated by the evidence of Mr. and Mrs. X, which I accept, about how they observed his behaviour when he moved to live with them. They instinctively considered that he was younger than it was said that he was, and their instincts were proved to be correct when considered in the detailed hearing that took place resulting in a determination by the Upper Tribunal in 2017.
4. The fact of Z's conviction of a serious offence and the significant prison sentence that he has received does have an impact on his needs which is a material matter for this court to consider. He will as a consequence require more support. Mr. and Mrs. X have already demonstrated their ability to manage this and support him. No one has sought to suggest that the fact of the conviction makes it less likely that this court will make an adoption order. The analysis for this court must remain welfare focussed. The SSHD will have much wider considerations that he will have to apply, as well as a different test in relation to this aspect of Z's history and the jurisdiction and orders that he will have available to him.
5. The Annex A report by Ms. L is detailed and comprehensive and it supports this application. No one has sought to challenge not only the basis upon which it has been conducted but also the analysis and recommendation that it had made. I am entirely satisfied that I should accept it. Ms L is an experienced practitioner, who has carefully considered each of the requirements she is bound to consider under the relevant provisions that cover these reports. Her recommendation supporting the adoption order stands up to close scrutiny and is very well reasoned.
Opus 2 International Ltd. hereby certifies that the above is an accurate and complete record of the proceedings or part thereof.
Transcribed by Opus 2 International Ltd.
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This transcript has been approved by the Judge