Lifting of in camera rule in adoption proceedings is in the interests of justice

By: James Cross BL

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High Court makes orders lifting the in camera rule, but with strict conditions, in respect of to adoption proceedings so that the birth mother could obtain legal advice, on the grounds that it is in the interests of justice to do so.

Adoption – High Court previously approved adoption – birth mother applied to lift the in camera rule - allow her to take legal advice in relation to potential legal proceedings and/or with a view to making a complaint to a statutory body - Adoption Authority neither consenting nor objecting - Child and Family Agency agrees that the birth mother can identify herself as the person named in the judgment to any solicitor she may seek to instruct - Child and Family Agency has objected to the application by reason of the applicant’s delay – mother first raised the issue of such an application when the judgment was delivered - delay - vulnerable person - Court is satisfied that it would be grossly unfair to attach any real weight or significance to the delay which has occurred in the making of this application – views of adoptive parents – independent solicitor – view of adopted person – totally opposed to the granting of the Orders sought - best interests - right to privacy - in camera rule is a derogation from the overarching constitutional principle set out in Article 34(1) of the Constitution that justice shall be administered in public - scope of the in camera rule - the lifting of the in camera rule is a matter for the Court - principles make clear that while there are good reasons for the operation of the in camera rule, this does not mean that there is an absolute embargo on disclosure of evidence in all circumstances - Court proposed lift the in camera rule in certain respects but to impose strict conditions in this regard - Court has a discretion to lift the in camera rule and it can exercise its discretion when it is in the interests of justice to do so - highly artificial to completely close down access to all of the proceedings by reason of the existence of the in camera rule –

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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