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/ 28 Feb 2023

Parents with intellectual impairment in public law proceedings

The President of the Family Division, Andrew McFarlane, recently gave a keynote speech at the Aspire Conference Exeter entitled “Parents with intellectual impairment in public law proceedings – the need to be alert”


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In his address, the President discussed how, over the past 30 years, understanding parents with intellectual impairment has greatly improved, which has not only impacted on the potential outcome of care cases but also in the way professionals in the Court system perform their respective roles.

The President covered the following topics:

  • ‘Good enough parenting’ and the intellectually impaired parent
  • Ensuring parents understand what they are consenting to in section 20 voluntary placements
  • Ensuring parents understand proceedings and the judgment, through intermediaries or otherwise
  • Intermediaries
  • Other forms of support during hearings for parties with intellectual impairment, referring to The Advocates Gateway 2017 toolkit and the use of lay advocates
  • After the hearing, including how Judgements should be delivered
  • Looking to the future, with particular reference to the Downs Syndrome Act 2022 and the Health and Care Act 2022 

To conclude, the President stressed the importance of professionals working with children and families having detailed knowledge of and applying the “Good Practice Guidance on Working with Parents with a Learning Disability”.  Although over the years understanding of and practice around parents with intellectual impairment in care proceedings has improved, the President stressed there can be no room for complacency.

For more information view the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary report.



How can Hanne & Co’s child care solicitors help?

Here at Hanne & Co we have a dedicated team to guide parents, children and other family members through cases involving Social Services sensitively and professionally. We are one of the largest childcare teams in London and our specialist lawyers are leaders in their field. We provide high quality advice, support, and representation in the most difficult and complex cases.

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