Child welfare - care order and contact rights. The application of Article 8 of ECHR

Supreme Court order 27 March 2020, HR-2020-663-S, (case no. 00-000001SIV-HRET) and (case no. 00-000002SIV-HRET), appeals against X Court of Appeal's decisions 19 July 2019 and 29 July 2019

A (Counsel Bente Mostad Tjugum) v. Y municipality (Counsel Frode Lauareid), (Assisting counsel: Trine Riiber), KS (third-party intervener) (Counsel Frode Lauareid), B (Counsel: Steinar Thomassen)

B (Counsel Steinar Thomassen) b. Y municipality (Counsel Frode Lauareid),(Assisting counsel: Trine Riiber), KS (third-party intervener) (Counsel Frode Lauareid)

Participating in accordance with section 30-13 of the Dispute Act: The State represented by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (The Office of the Attorney General represented by Marius Emberland), (Assisting counsel: Henriette Lund Busch)

Justices: Øie, Matningsdal, Møse, Matheson, Falkanger, Normann, Bull, Kallerud, Ringnes, Bergh, Østensen Berglund

The Court of Appeal had refused to hear appeals against the District Court's judgments in cases involving decisions under the Child Welfare Act, see section 36-10 subsection 3 of the Dispute Act. The District Court had upheld administrative decisions by the County Social Welfare Board to issue a care order for a child born in 2011 and to deny the father contact rights. The appeals were heard jointly by a grand chamber of the Supreme Court together with two other child welfare cases (HR-2020-661-S and HR-2020-662-S). The Supreme Court found that the District Court's hearing of the case without having appointed expert was justifiable. The assessment of the child's challenges and the mother's caring skills was based on a reassuring, up-to-date and broad decision-making process. There were also no serious flaws in the reasoning. With regard to the mother's contact rights, the Supreme Court found that District Court's decision-making process, the overall reasoning and balancing exercise met the requirements in internal Norwegian law and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. With regard to contact with the father, who had not yet had any contact with the child, the Supreme Court found that the District Court's conclusion that  contact was not in the child's best interest at this stage was based on an adequate assessment and a fair balancing of various considerations. The assessment was also sufficiently broad. There were no serious flaws in the District Court's judgments or procedure which would have implied that the Court of Appeal should have granted leave to appeal, see section 36-10 subsection 3 (a) of the Dispute Act. The appeals against the Court of Appeal's decisions were dismissed.

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