LEGISLATION, RULES AND CASELAW
7. Welfare reports.
(1)A court considering any question with respect to a child under this Act may—
(a)ask an officer of the Service; or
(b)ask a local authority to arrange for—
(i)an officer of the authority; or
(ii)such other person (other than an officer of the Service) as the authority considers appropriate,
to report to the court on such matters relating to the welfare of that child as are required to be dealt with in the report.
(3)The report may be made in writing, or orally, as the court requires.
(4)Regardless of any enactment or rule of law which would otherwise prevent it from doing so, the court may take account of—
(a)any statement contained in the report; and
(b)any evidence given in respect of the matters referred to in the report,
in so far as the statement or evidence is, in the opinion of the court, relevant to the question which it is considering.
(5)It shall be the duty of the authority or officer of the Service to comply with any request for a report under this section.
FAMILY PROCEDRURE RULES 2010 PD12B – paragraph 14.13 – reports
FAMILY PROCEDURE RULES rule 16.33
FAMILY PROCEDURE RULES 2010 PD16A – part 6
When ordering a local authority to provide a S7 report there is no jurisdiction to require the local authority to obtain further expert advice or assessment (Re K  2 FLR 432)
A local authority should not be made an intervenor in private law proceedings unless the local authority has indicated it intends to issue S31 proceedings (Re K  2 FLR 432)
A local authority should not be made party to private law proceedings (F v Cambridgeshire County Council  1 FLR 516) – the role of the local authority in private law proceedings is as an investigator and adviser to the court. The local authority role is not to make an application about a child or either support or oppose an application
A local authority can be ordered to pay wasted costs depending on its conduct within the private law proceedings (Birmingham Children’s Trust and K  EWHC 861 (Fam))
A court has no power to make orders against local authorities in private law proceedings requiring an authority to supervise contact (Re E (Family Assistance Order)  2 FLR 512
ADCS/CAFCASS policy on whether Cafcass or a local authority should prepare a section 7 report – 19/10/22
- A court considering any question with respect to a child under any part of the Children Act 1989 may ask a Cafcass officer or an officer of the local authority to provide a report relating to the welfare of the child as required to be dealt with in that report. When deciding whether Cafcass or a local authority should be required to prepare the report the court must have regard to the policy agreed between Cafcass and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services dated 22nd October 2022 https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/download/18040/
- The court shall notify the local authority legal department by email of any hearing at which the court is considering ordering the local authority to prepare a section 7 report along with any Safeguarding Letter prepared by Cafcass. The court will permit remote attendance at that hearing if the local authority gives notice of its intention to attend and in the alternative the local authority can send written representations.
- The court should state on the face of the order the specific factual and/or other issue which is to be addressed in the focused S7 report.
- The court needs to consider what information the local authority may require such to give it a full background about the family circumstances and what is being sought by the parents. The court should consider providing the local authority with past orders, the application forms, witness and position statements, any reports filed and any other relevant documents. The court should also direct that further documents be served on the local authority throughout the duration of their involvement within the proceedings.
- The court should also consider, if it is known that there is information not to be shared between the parties, recording that on the face of the order.
- A copy of the court order and any other relevant documents should be served on the Legal Adviser to the Local Authority Children’s Services and where known the allocated social worker forthwith.
- The local authority officer allocated to undertake the court report is known as the “Welfare Officer” and is for the purposes of the proceedings an officer of the court.
- The local authority must comply with the court order within the timescales indicated by the court. The welfare officer must interview those persons directed by the court in preparation of the report.
- Content of the section 7 report:-
- Visits and interviews made as a part of the investigations
- Documents read
- The reporter’s understanding of why the report has been ordered and the issues to be addressed
- A summary of the historical involvement of Children’s Services where applicable
- A profile of each child
- A profile of the parents and key adults
- Details of the work conducted with the parents and wider family about the issues
- Details of information from other agencies
- Social work analysis of the issues, proposed arrangements, support and available orders
- Welfare checklist
- Conclusion and recommendations
- When completed the local authority must serve the welfare report on those persons indicated in the court order.
- Where directed by the court the welfare officer must attend court and give evidence where required.
- The court will serve any final order on the Legal Adviser to the Local Authority.
- Contact details for local authority private law proceedings:-
BRADFORD – email@example.com
CALDERDALE – firstname.lastname@example.org
KIRKLEES – Legal.ChildCareDuty@kirklees.gov.uk
LEEDS – email@example.com; social.care.legal@Leeds.gov.uk
WAKEFIELD – Privatelawenquiries@wakefield.gov.uk