Child welfare. Refusal of leave to appeal in a revocation of care order case
Supreme Court order 15 September 2020, HR-2020-1789-A, (case no. 20-053521SIV-HRET), civil case, appeal against decision.
A (Counsel Kjetil Sørensen), B (Counsel Victoria Holmen) v. X municipality (Counsel Frode Lauareid)
Justices: Indreberg, Falkanger, Ringnes, Østensen Berglund, Steinsvik
The Court of Appeal had refused leave to appeal after the District Court had denied an application for return of a child after a care order, see section 36-10 subsection 3 of the Dispute Act. The Supreme Court, having conducted an oral hearing, initially referred to the Court of Appeal's duty to verify that the District Court's ruling is made on an adequate basis for decision-making. The ruling on the issues raised must be the result of a broad balancing of the child's and the parent's interests, and the reasoning must demonstrate that relevant factors and considerations have been assessed and balanced in a reassuring manner. The further balancing of conflicting interests must reflect the starting point that the child is to be reunited with its parents. The significance of the family ties between mother and child had not been discussed or balanced against the attachment the child had acquired to the foster home. The District Court's conclusion – that a return would lead to serious problems – created doubt as to whether the threshold in section 4-21 subsection 2 had been correctly applied. There were also flaws in the District Court's decision-making basis, as the court had not had not obtained an updated expert report on the bonds between mother and child. The Court of Appeal had, also, failed to give an account of its assessment, balancing of conflicting interests and deliberations on the goal of reunification. Against this background, it could have amounted to a violation of ECHR Article 8 if the District Court's judgment had been final. The Court of Appeal's decision was set aside.