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1.4.13 Section 7 and Section 37 Reports

LOCAL INFORMATION

Section 7 Report Template

Section 37 Report Template

AMENDMENT

This chapter was significantly amended in March 2012. It should be re-read in its entirety.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Section 7 Reports
  3. Section 37 Reports


1. Introduction

A court considering any questions with respect to a child under the Children Act, 1989 may ask a local authority to arrange for an officer of the authority to report to the Court on such matters relating to the welfare of the child as are required to be dealt with in the report.


2. Section 7 Reports

The following points should be addressed within a Section 7 Report which is a report to look at Residence and Contact issues for children subject to private law proceedings

  • The enquiries undertaken, including who was seen and where (missing appointments may be listed);
  • The nature of the application which gave rise to the court order and the enquiry;
  • The detail of issues in dispute;
  • Whether there is any measure of agreement between the parties;
  • Whether there is any prospect of agreement being reached without the continued involvement of the court;
  • The present arrangements for the child;
  • The matters set out in the welfare checklist;
  • The no-order principle.

The report should include a reasoned assessment of the options open to the court including:

  • The parties’ proposals;
  • Their likely consequences;
  • The wishes and feelings of the children;
  • Referral for mediation.

Preparing and submitting a Section 7 Report

  1. On receipt of the request from Legal Services, the task is allocated to a Social Worker;
  2. A report will be compiled for court on the matters relating to the welfare of the child, which the report is required to deal with. A recommendation is required;

    It is important to keep parties aware of the emerging conclusion so that the final report does not hold any surprises. Parties should be informed that it is for the court to provide them with a copy;
  3. The Team Manager must agree the report prior to it being filed in court and served on the parties by the social worker. This needs to be amended by social care if amendments are highlighted;
  4. The report must be sent directly to the Court and served on the Solicitor for each parent where represented or directly on the parents if un-represented


3. Section 37 Reports

Where, in any family proceedings in which a question arises with respect to the welfare of any child, it appears to the court that it may be appropriate for a care or supervision order to be made with respect to the child, the court may direct the appropriate authority to undertake an investigation of the child’s circumstances.

Where the court gives a direction under this section the local authority concerned shall, when undertaking the investigation, consider whether they should:

  • Apply for a Care Order or for a supervision order with respect to the child;
  • Provide services or assistance for the child or his family; or
  • Take any other action with respect to the child.

Where the local authority undertakes an investigation under his section, and decide not to apply for a Care Order or supervision order with respect of the child concerned, they shall inform the court of their reasons for so deciding; any services of assistance which they have provided, or intend to provide, for the child and his family; or any other action which they have taken, or propose to take, with respect to the child.

The information should be provided to the court by the end of the 8 weeks beginning with the date of the direction, unless the court directs otherwise.

If, on the conclusion of any investigation or review under this section, the authority decides not to apply for a care order or Supervision Order with respect to the child, they shall consider whether it would be appropriate to review the case at a later date; and if they decide that it would be, they shall determine the date on which that review is to begin.

Parties in Family Proceedings may suggest a Section 37 Enquiry to the court. It should only be ordered where it appears to the court that a care or supervision order may be necessary. In exceptional circumstances, the court may make an interim Care Order or a supervision order.

The local authority must consider whether to apply for an order or exercise any of its other powers under the Act. These include making an offer of accommodation or applying for an emergency protection order.

The report should contain:

  • The work undertaken for the investigation;
  • Reasons for the decision to apply/not to apply for an order;
  • Details of service or assistance provided/intended to be provided for the child and family e.g. under Section 17;
  • Any other action taken, or which it proposed to take with respect to the child;
  • Whether it would be appropriate to review the case at a later date and the date on which the review is to take place.

Preparing and Submitting Section 37 Reports

  1. On receipt of the request from Legal Services the task is allocated to a Social Worker;
  2. A request must be made to the Area Manager for a Gateway Meeting which must be held prior to the report being written and submitted to the court;
  3. Planning the enquiry;
    • The social worker must see the child
    • Consideration should be given to whether to consult health, housing, education etc.
  4. A decision is made regarding whether the local authority decides to apply or not for a care order or supervision order (refer to the Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure for details of delegation and the context in which decisions are made regarding how to apply for a care or supervision order);

    If the decision is made not to apply for a Care Order or Supervision order then the report must consider addressing the information listed in Key Point 5;
  5. The Team Manager must agree the report prior to it being sent to Legal Services;
  6. Legal Services must receive the report at least 3 days prior to the filing date if it is to be checked before the social worker files it in court. The social worker does not serve a copy on the parties.

End