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Crane & Staples act in a successful appeal at the UK Supreme Court

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Crane & Staples act in a successful appeal at the UK Supreme Court

In the matter of H-W (Children)
In the matter of H-W (Children) (No 2) [2022] UKSC 17 On appeal from: [2021] EWCA Civ 1451

Senior Associate Family Solicitor, Sian Churchill, represented the 2nd Appellant in a successful appeal at the UK Supreme Court.

The UK Supreme Court is the highest Court in the UK, and it is rare to have cases heard there.

The case is a complicated Public Law Children Matter – care proceedings. There are 4 children in the care proceedings and 3 were subject to the appeal. A final care order for the older 3 children was made in July 2021, and it was this final order that was being appealed. The care plan that was endorsed by the Court would have meant those children would be removed from the family home and placed in separate foster placements from each other.

We, and the Mother’s legal team, appealed this decision. We, as very short summary, argued that the decision of the judge who heard the original final hearing in July 2021 to make the orders in relation to the 3 older children was wrong because the judge failed to consider other less interventionist options which would mitigate the risk of harm. This means, were there other options instead of these children being removed from their home, and then separated from each other. This includes there already being injunctions in place, and various other support systems that could have been put in. Essentially – were the final orders made proportionate?

The matter first had to go to the Court of Appeal, which happened last year. One Judge agreed with us, but the other two did not meaning that our appeal then was not successful.

We then appealed that decision, to the UK Supreme Court. The hearing was in March 2022, and we then had a very long wait for the Judgment which was handed down yesterday, 15 June 2022.

All 5 UK Supreme Court Judges agreed that the appeal should be allowed. They decided that the Judge in 2021 did not adequately assess the prospects of the potential other options available. There was no side-by-side analysis and there was no holistic evaluation of these options.

The Supreme Court unanimously allows M and F3’s appeals and remits the cases for rehearing. This means that a different judge will make a fresh decision on the ultimate outcome for C, D and E. Dame Siobhan Keegan gives the judgment with which all the other members of the Court agree.
- Extract from Press Summary of Judgment

Happily, the children have stayed with our client and their mother throughout the appeals. They remain at home until the case is re-heard by the local Court.

This Judgment from the UK Supreme Court is very important and will be referred to going forward in many care cases. It provides clear guidance as to what is expected from Judges when setting out their reasons for making decisions at final hearings.

Crane & Staples would like to thank Counsel, Will Tyler QC of 36 Family, and Emily Beer and Amy Stout of 3 Dr Johnsons Buildings, for their excellent work on this case. Counsel and Crane & Staples acted pro-bono in this matter.

The full Judgment and information about the case can be read here: 

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