In determining the paramount welfare considerations in cases concerning children who are the subject of permanence and adoption proceedings, to what extent are practical considerations tied in to the necessity test, and the need to take a holistic approach to determining a child’s welfare?

In an appeal by North Lanarkshire Council against the refusal of the sheriff to make a permanence order even where the threshold test had been satisfied, senior counsel submitted there was a gap in the sheriff’s reasoning when, in refusing the application, the sheriff had not considered, amongst other things, where the child would live, who would exercise parental responsibilities and rights, or whether being in long term fostering, rather than part of a stable family unit, was conducive to the child’s welfare.

In rejecting the appeal points, which the Sheriff Appeal Court said amounted to “little more than finding points of criticism”, the court once again took the opportunity to launch a withering attack on social work practice for having “deployed scarce resources on this appeal when such resources would have been better directed to… rebuilding and preservation of family ties”. Contrast, perhaps, the English decision in A Local Authority v G (Parent with Learning Disability) (Rev 1) [2017] EWFC B94 (18 December 2017), where it was emphasised that even where there were criticisms of social work practice, “all the professionals did their best” and social work support cannot become “substituted parenting”.

North Lanarkshire Council v KR [2017] SAC (Civ) 38 (15 December 2017)