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Interim challenge

Should one contest the first interim hearing of a care application brought by the local authority?
Safda Mahmood considers the options

5 July 2002

When the local authority makes a first application for an interim care hearing, practitioners are often uncertain whether to contest it. Before deciding, it is important to be clear as to the criteria for the making of interim orders. Pursuant to s 38(1) of the Children Act 1989 (CA 1989), the court can make the first interim care and interim supervision order for up to eight weeks. Thereafter, further orders may last up to four weeks on each occasion. The grounds for making such orders are that the threshold criteria under s 38(2) CA 1989 are met. This requires the court to be satisfied there is reasonable cause to believe the child has either suffered significant harm, or there is a likelihood of the child suffering significant harm. This is different from the threshold required for a final care or supervision order: for a final order, it is not enough to show reasonable cause, but rather that the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer significant harm (s 31(2) CA 1989). Does thi...

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