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The need for 
judicial continuity

District Judge Julie Exton explains the tensions between complying with the 26-week time limit and ensuring hearings in care cases are held in front of the same judge

4 February 2016

N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction) [2015] EWCA Civ 1112, which was handed down on ?2 November 2015, is a fascinating care case dealing with topical issues such as jurisdiction in adoption cases with a foreign element and ?the possibility of a ‘limping adoption’. But the president of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, in his detailed and wide-ranging judgment, also referred to other important issues.

The children in this case had been in foster care since May 2013 and the proceedings only began in January 2014. Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 addresses the provision of accommodation for children ?by a local authority where their parents agree. In his judgment, Munby P indicated that ‘section 20 may, in an appropriate case, have a proper role to play as a short-term measure pending the commencement of care proceedings, but the use of section 20 as a prelude to care proceedings for a period as long as here is wholly unacceptable. It is, in my judgmen...

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