10: Can I appeal against a care order?

You can appeal against the care order but it must be within 21 days from the date the order was made. As soon as a final decision is made in court, if the judge has got some things wrong you should raise it immediately. Judges do have the power to change their decisions at any time before the final order is drawn up (ie it is sealed with the court stamp). You should also ask the judge to order a transcript of the case to be paid for by the local authority. This often takes some time and you should ask the judge to agree that the 21-day time limit for appealing should only start once the transcript has been provided. It’s a good idea to inform the judge that you plan to appeal. 

The appeal has to be on at least one of three grounds: 

1) the judge made a mistake in the law; 

2) they didn’t take into account an important piece of evidence, or they took into account some evidence which they should not have; 

3) some new evidence has emerged that proves that the allegations against you were untrue or that social workers lied in court. 

Ask your solicitor or barrister to say what grounds you could appeal on. Many lawyers are reluctant to do appeals as they are time consuming and they may tell you there are no grounds to appeal. In that case, it’s always worth doing it yourself anyway [23]. You may not get legal aid to do this if your lawyers have not agreed that there are grounds. 

If you are not able to access legal aid to submit an appeal you can also ask the Bar Pro Bono Unit to represent you at appeal but they do need at least three weeks before any hearing to assess your case. 

If your case was heard by magistrates, you don’t need to ask for permission to appeal. If it was heard by a district judge or a circuit judge, you do need to ask for permission to appeal, so make sure your solicitor knows you want them to do this before the end of the final hearing. If that didn’t happen, or the judge refused to give you permission, you have to apply for permission first from the appeal court [24]. You can request an oral hearing of your appeal but the judge who is considering the appeal papers may not agree and can make an order preventing any further oral hearing. 

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