Children's hearings: whether father a 'relevant person'.

Author:Plumtree, Alexandra
Position:Scotland: Cases in brief
 
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Principal Reporter v K The Supreme Court Lord Hope, Deputy President, Lord Rodger, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Sir John Dyson, SCJ 15 December 2010, [2010] UKSC 56

K was the father of L who was born in 2002. K and L's mother, R, were not married and he had no parental responsibilities and rights. In May 2004, K applied for various orders concerning these, under section 11 of the 1995 Act. He obtained an interim contact order but contact was stopped by R at the end of 2005, and she made a series of allegations against K. In May 2006, the sheriff suspended interim contact and ordered a report. In June 2006, L was referred to a children's hearing. Grounds for referral were established by the sheriff in August 2006 and a supervision requirement was made in October 2006, with a provision that L and R's address should not be disclosed to K. However, K was not considered to be a 'relevant person' and was not present or represented at the court or other hearings.

Later in October 2006, in the section 11 application, the sheriff granted K parental responsibilities and rights to the extent of making him a 'relevant person' for children's hearing purposes. He was invited to and was present at subsequent hearings. In February 2007, the sheriff made another order for contact but none took place. In August 2007, the children's hearing terminated K's contact and various subsequent hearings made similar decisions. After a hearing in January 2009, K appealed the decision to the sheriff, as a 'relevant person'. The reporter's Answers denied that K was a 'relevant person' on the basis that the sheriff's decision in October 2006, making K a 'relevant person', was incompetent despite the fact that K had been treated as such since that decision.

The Principal Reporter then lodged a petition in the Court of Session to suspend the sheriff's decision of October 2006, and interim suspension was granted in March 2009. K appealed to the Inner House against the suspension. On 21 January 2010, the First Division refused K's appeal, taking the view that he was not a 'relevant person': The Principal Reporter vK 2010 SLT 308, previously reported in Adoption & Fostering (34:1, 2010, p 82). K appealed to the Supreme Court.

Held

Appeal granted and the Principal Reporter's petition dismissed. In addition, the court declared...

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