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The nuances of 'nothing else will do'

5 September 2016

A recent adoption case shows the dangers of taking a rigid and inflexible approach to applying legal principles, writes Marilyn Stowe

Legal mantras can be useful - pithy, easy-to-remember maxims
that encapsulate important principles. But as tempting as it may be to keep rolling them out in every instance, they should never become a substitute for nuance and context.

Take the 'nothing else will do' principle applied to adoption cases. The phrase was first used in the precedent-setting Supreme Court judgment in Re B [2013] UKSC 33. It encapsulates the key family law axiom that adoption
is drastic and life-changing: children should only be parted from their families if 'nothing else will do'.

But even the most reasonable and rational principles can become a substitute for common sense if applied inflexibly. A recent Court...

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