The need to ensure that Justice is properly served has been re-enforced by the court of appeal very recently in the following case:
Re C (A Child)  EWCA Civ 128
Appeal by parents against care and placement orders where the mother has speech and hearing impediment and the father is profoundly deaf. Guidelines given for cases involving a deaf parent. Appeal allowed and case remitted for rehearing.
This appeal concerned a young child whose mother has a low level of cognitive functioning and a speech and hearing impediment, and whose father is disabled by reason of profound deafness and who communicates via British Sign Language (BSL). This appeal was made by the parents against a full care order, dispensing with the parents’ consent to adoption and a placement for adoption order.
This appeal succeeded because the Local Authority and Professionals involved failed to recognise and ensure that appropriately trained BSL interpreter’s were instructed to assist the Father and the parenting assessment had failed to take into appropriate consideration the mother’s cognitive difficulties. It made clear that courts should not be driven by the 26 week timetable if the disabilities of one or more parents require a longer timeframe to ensure an effective and meaningful assessment.
Not only did the failures in this case result in a successful appeal (with the consequent delayed outcome for the child), the Court of Appeal judgment also serves as a reminder that all organs of the state (including the local authority and CAFCASS) are subject to Equality Act 2010 legislation and therefore owe particular duties to disabled service users/disabled parents.
June Venters QC