Saturday, 28 March 2015

The rights of the child, not the authority and dignity of the court

It is most appropriate and right that the Court of Session in Scotland has overturned a ruling by a sheriff court that social workers were in contempt of court for not enforcing a contact order. The Herald reports that an Edinburgh social worker and her manager had initially followed the sheriff's order to resume contact but because it was causing the children great distress they decided to cease contact. They asked for a children's hearing to consider that decision. Administrative delays meant that the hearing did not take place for several months. Subsequently the sheriff ruled that the social workers were in contempt of court.

The principal of family justice that should permeate all children’s hearings should be that the best interests and rights of the child are paramount. Nobody who acts in a child’s best interests should be subject to censure or punishment. I am delighted to see that the Court of Session has made an appropriate and much welcomed decision.