26 October 2019

Barnet Council - serious breach of duty of full and frank disclosure to a Court

Mr Mustard draws your attention to the Important notice at the top of the written decision of Her Honour Judge Hilder. Mr Mustard does not know who the parties are and does not seek to know. If you know, tell no-one and don't publish any names or addresses. You could get in seriously hot water for contempt of court which carries the risk of an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Mr Mustard has reproduced this decision which is public as it may help others to stand up to Barnet Council if they are not behaving as they should in any other legal matter.

The whole decision has been reproduced verbatim. Mr Mustard has carefully read it and notes the following points in particular, using the decision's paragraph numbers:

'the Applicant' = London Borough of Barnet

3 - the Applicant demonstrated a serious beach of the duty of full and frank disclosure 

(in contrast at the tribunal last week when the Adjudicator picked the dvd out of the evidence bag she found it was broken, as a number had been for Harrow Council recently. Rather than let her adjourn the hearing for another dvd to be supplied Mr Mustard volunteered his own copy even though it proved the contravention had occurred and he then lost).

8 - this application was 6 months late (Barnet Council's application)

11 - when we try to contact social service's (sic) about this we contact the office and we get no reply on ringing us back who looking after my son.

35 - Barnet Council are accused of 'a lack of insight, even with the benefit of hindsight' (ouch)

48 - the Applicant's scope of consultation argument is misconceived.

49 - the Applicant's subjective view argument is a fundamental misunderstanding of the duty of full and frank disclosure. If it were to be up to the Applicant to determine whether a view which differs from its own is valid and therefore to be brought to the attention of the court or not, the duty of disclosure would be neither full nor frank.

51 - I do not accept that JDO's placement ....in November 18, could reasonably have been considered by the Applicant as non-contentious.

52 - the review process is not a rubber-stamping exercise

53 - In my judgment, the information available to the Local Authority by November 2018 strongly indicates that there should have been doubt.

54 - In my judgment, it is not appropriate for the body with consultation obligations to 'present' OD with a pre-prepared statement.
In this matter it amounts to a breach of the duty of full and frank disclosure.

56 - However, having received a response which was not the Applicant's liking, the Applicant then failed to put the result of the consultation before the court fully or indeed at all.
Thereafter, the Applicant went to extraordinary lengths to seek to avoid the Official Solicitor's participation in proceedings, including apparently choosing an alternative solicitor for JDO.

57 - The very real consequence of the Applicant's approach was delay and a longer period of unauthorised deprivation of JDO's liberty.

Clearly this is a difficult matter but Barnet Council have fallen woefully short of the standard of behaviour required of a public body. Hopefully they will learn from this decision and change their ways by improving their consultation approach and fulfilling their duty of full and frank disclosure to the court.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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