March 2022

In November 2021 Somerset County Council asked for legal advice about the Placement Orders for ten children (who had not yet been matched), where Adoption Agency Regulations had not been fully complied with. This was particularly in relation to the way children’s health information was handled. The Judge found the Placement Orders were legal despite the errors.

AUK trustee Emily Boardman, a solicitor who works with birth families and adopters, has written a useful article about this case here: The Somerset case on non-compliant Placement Orders - Boardman, Hawkins & Osborne LLP (

In March, further legal advice was sought by Somerset about a number of children who had already been matched, and we await judgment about those children. Following this judgment, President of the Family Division of the English courts, Sir Andrew McFarlane, will issue new guidance that we hope will set out a clear way forward for all local authorities who might be affected by similar issues.

Read the latest in Emily's part two on Somerset Judgment.

Keep an eye on our social media channels and website – as soon as we hear any news, we’ll let you know.

You may be concerned about how this might affect you. It does not mean your adoption order will suddenly be overturned or your child removed. It does mean that local authorities may need to examine paperwork carefully, including paperwork in old cases.

The vast majority of families are advised to wait until Sir Andrew McFarlane has produced his guidance.

Meanwhile, if you’re worried you can contact your child’s social worker and ask them to formally review the legality of their Placement Order, so that you know whether your child is in the group of children who might be affected. Get the social worker to send you their advice in writing.

There are three categories of people who are advised to take more urgent legal advice:

  1. If matched but the placement is at risk;
  2. If about to be matched and the placement is at risk;
  3. If already in an adoptive placement which may break down if the adoption application is delayed.

It’s important to choose a solicitor who is a specialist in adoption law (a google search will give you some options). You can ask the placing local authority if they will fund your legal fees.

You can also call our free Helpline:  0300 666 0006.