Information about a deceased adopted person.

Author:Harris, Alexandra Conroy
Position:Legal notes: England and Wales

FL v Registrar General [2010] High Court of Justice (Family Division) Roderic Wood J 24 May 2010 [2010] EWHC Civ 3520

FL is a 63-year-old woman, daughter of WC. WC was adopted by an elderly couple in 1927 and died in 1999 without apparently showing any interest in his birth family. FL experienced a troubled upbringing due to WC's mental health problems and alcohol misuse. She felt that these problems may stem from his rejection by his birth family and adoption and wanted to know more about his family and her own genetic background. She had no other information beyond WC's adoption certificate and attempts to trace the court records of his adoption were unsuccessful. The only place which held any information linking WC's adoption certificate to his birth certificate was the Registrar General, who can only release that information if ordered to do so by the court 'in exceptional circumstances' (section 79, Adoption and Children Act 2002). FL argued that the circumstances of her case were exceptional because of the difficulties the adoption had caused her and her family and the lack of alternative sources of information. She pointed out that birth relatives of an adopted person were able to apply for an intermediary service, but that the children or other descendants of an adopted person were not defined as relatives and so were not afforded the same opportunity.


The judge refused to construe the Act in any other way than was apparent from the words used and could not consider whether Parliament had in fact intended to include descendants in the definition of 'birth relative'. He also declined to address the...

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