Brendan Roche was instructed by the childrens’ guardian in a significant case on the jurisdiction of the Family Court, namely Re Q (Child: Interim Care Order: Jurisdiction) [2019] EWHC 512 in which Mrs Justice Knowles decided, contrary to the submissions of the local authority and accepting the arguments of the respondents including the children’s guardian, that it is not possible for an interim care order or an interim supervision order to subsist after the subject child has reached his or her seventeenth birthday (or sixteenth birthday in the case of a child who is married).

In doing so, she rejected the obiter dicta of Mr Justice Williams in Re A (Wardship: 17-Year-Old: Section 20 Accommodation) [2018] EWHC 1121 (Fam). She also held, however, that when jurisdiction to make interim and final public law orders is no longer available, careful scrutiny of the circumstances of each case is required by the court in order to discern whether the proceedings themselves lack merit and whether it is proportionate and in the child’s welfare interests for them to continue.

There will be some cases where a useful forensic and welfare-driven purpose might be served by the continuation of public law proceedings albeit without the structure provided by interim public law orders.


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