Public Law Blog

October 31, 2017 Jonathan Cowen, Anita Rao & Eleanor Sibley successful in appeal to the Court of Appeal on the question of whether parental consent has any role to play in deprivation of liberty applications concerning 16-17 year olds

Jonathan Cowen, Anita Rao, and Eleanor Sibley successfully represented Birmingham City Council in the Court of Appeal in an appeal against a decision of the Court of Protection that a 16 year old disabled child (D), who lacked capacity to make decisions about his residence and care, was deprived of his liberty in a residential […]


If the young person wishes to challenge the age assessment he has to then obtain legal advice and, if appropriate, see an interim injunction. Sometimes the interim relief is applied for after the young person has been dispersed.

The 2 applicants in these cases that were heard together were from Afghanistan and Vietnam respectively. There was nothing remarkable about the facts of either case. Both raised factual issues that are to be tried by the Upper Tribunal, however, Popplewell J ordered that a ‘rolled up’ hearing to consider the challenge to LBC’s practice.

June 6, 2017 Does section 20 of the Children Act require the consent of parents? The Supreme Court is to decide.

On 26 January 2017, the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in London Borough of Hackney v Williams and anor [2017] EWCA Civ 26, departing from a long chain of Family Court judgments highlighting the necessity for local authorities to obtain the informed consent of parents prior to accommodating children under section 20. In a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal held that although obtaining parental consent was good practice, and that the guidance of the High Court should be followed, the necessity for consent did not have the full force of law and could not found an action in damages under the Human Rights Act.

Permission to appeal was sought by the parents, arguing that this is a case of considerable public importance. The divergence of opinion at High Court and Court of Appeal level has created a lack of clarity as to the status of the earlier established guidance of the Family Court, and is likely to have significant implications for social work practice and the protection of vulnerable children.