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Wolverhampton City Council v JA and others [2017] EWFC 62

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In a tweet: Clarification that criminal finding of fact is not determination of criminal charge or conviction

  • In brief: There were concurrent criminal and public law children proceedings dealing with the same issue – allegations that the mother's ("M") children had been sexually abused by the father ("F") and M's two other partners. The criminal trial preceded the fact-finding hearing. During the criminal trial, F was found to be unfit to plead and so could not be convicted. However, the jury made findings that F did the alleged acts.  

    In care proceedings and other civil proceedings, relevant criminal convictions are admissible as proof of the findings sought, unless the accused can prove the contrary (s.11 Civil Evidence Act 1968). While there is no definition of a conviction, the 1968 Act makes a distinction between a finding of fact and a conviction within its provisions (s.13). Keehan J followed Lord Bingham's decision in R v H [2003] UKHL 1 that a criminal finding of fact is not a determination of a criminal charge or a conviction. Keehan J could not treat the criminal findings of fact the same as convictions that prove the findings against F in the care proceedings. He had to make his own findings from the evidence in the care proceedings and the transcripts of the evidence from the criminal trial.

    Comment 

    The judgment clarifies the status of a criminal finding of fact. It is applicable to all fact finding hearings, not only those in care proceedings.

    Read the full text of the judgment here


Published: 29/09/2017

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