Our specialist lawyers work closely with Norfolk County Council’s children’s and adult care services. Their work relating to vulnerable children and adults is often highly sensitive and confidential.
nplaw’s child protection lawyers have wide-ranging experience of public and private law proceedings relating to children and are capable of operating at all levels of urgency. We advise and represent Norfolk County Council’s children’s services in all types of proceeding relating to the care of children, including:
- care, placement and adoption proceedings;
- special guardianship and child arrangement orders under the Children Act 1989;
- wardship and inherent jurisdiction proceedings – used in complex international, child abduction and forced marriage cases; and
- cases involving physical injury, such as non-accidental injury and female genital mutilation.
Our child protection team comprises highly able advocates and case workers and we have an excellent court record in all such proceedings.
We operate a duty service 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. We have experience of all types of emergency application, including applications for emergency protection orders under section 44 of the Children Act 1989 and secure accommodation orders under section 25 of the Children Act 1989.
Legal advice for Independent Reviewing Officers
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 requires every local authority to appoint a named Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) for each child in its care. It is the IRO’s job to ascertain the child’s views and wishes and to ensure that these are given due consideration at reviews of the child’s care plan. An IRO may be directly employed by a local authority but is required to act independently of it. In order to fulfil this role, it is essential that an IRO has access to independent legal advice. nplaw can provide unbiased, expert advice to all IROs working outside Norfolk.
Adult community care
Local authorities are obliged to provide services for the purpose of ensuring the safety of people living in the community who have physical or mental health problems, helping them to manage their problems and protecting them against abuse or neglect. nplaw provides specialist advice on adult community care. In particular, we advise Norfolk County Council on its adult safeguarding duties under the Care Act 2014 and the statutory guidance issued pursuant to the Act. This includes advising on a local authority’s duty to:
- make enquiries where there is a safeguarding concern;
- carry out safeguarding reviews;
- share information; and
- arrange for the provision of independent advocates;
and extends to a local authority’s duties in relation to the commissioning of adult care and support, and the management of provider failure and other service interruptions.
Court of Protection proceedings
Our specialist lawyers also advise and act on applications made under the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. For example, we act in relation to proceedings:
- to establish whether an individual has mental capacity and, if they do not, to make decisions about their personal welfare and/or finances;
- to provide for the appointment or removal of deputies;
- to provide for the removal of a Nearest Relative and their replacement with another family member or an Approved Mental Health Professional where an individual is detained in hospital, is subject to a community treatment order or is under guardianship;
- to establish whether adults in care homes or hospitals have been deprived of their liberty and, if so, whether this is in their best interests.
In a recent reported case, NCC v PB (By her litigation friend the Official Solicitor), TB (By his litigation friend the Official Solicitor)  EWCOP 14, nplaw acted for Norfolk County Council in Court of Protection proceedings to determine an elderly woman’s capacity and best interests with regard to residence and contact with her husband. The woman had a history of psychiatric illness and the proceedings were brought as a result of safeguarding concerns that her husband could not meet her needs or act in her best interests. The application was opposed by both the woman and her husband. The Court of Protection ordered that the woman lacked capacity to make decisions about her residence, care and contact with her husband, and that it was lawful and proportionate to place her in a care home and for contact with her husband to be managed by the local authority.
We provide training to Norfolk County Council’s children’s and adult care services as well as to other interested parties on a range of topics such as international law, court advocacy and recent developments in the fields of children’s law and local authority safeguarding.