Health Service Executive -v- L & anor (Supervision Order - Corporal Punishment)

JudgeToale J.
Judgment Date13 January 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] IEDC 2
Case OutcomeApproved
Date13 January 2011
CourtDistrict Court (Ireland)
[2011] IEDC 2
L & O
13 January 2011
1. This is an applicat ion by the HSE for a Supervision Order pursuant to sec tion 19 of the Child Care Act 1991 (“the Act ”), the
relevant parts of which are as f ollows:
“(1) Where, on the a pplication of the Health Service Execut ive with respec t to a child, the court is sat isfied that
there are reasonable grounds for believing that—
(a) the c hild has been or is being assaulted, ill-treat ed, neglected or sexually abused, or
(b) the c hild’s health, development or welfare has been or is being avoidably impaired or neglected, or
(c) t he child’s health, development or welfare is likely to be avoidably impaired or neglect ed,
and it is desirable that t he child be visited periodically by or on behalf of the Health Se rvice Executive, the c ourt
may make an order (in this Act referred to as a “supervision order”) in respect of the child.
(2) A supervision order shall authorise the Health Service Execut ive to have the c hild visited on such periodic
occ asions as the Health Service Execut ive may consider necessary in order to satisfy it self as t o the welfare of the
child and to give t o his parents or t o a person ac ting in loco parent is any neces sary advice as to t he care of the
(3) …
(4) Where a c ourt makes a supervision order in respect of a c hild, it may, on the application of the Health Service
Executive, eit her at the time of the making of the order or at any t ime during the c urrency of t he order, give such
directions as it sees fit as to t he care of the child, which may require the parents of t he c hild or a person acting in
loco parent is to c ause him to att end for medical or psychiatric examination, treatment or assessment at a hospital,
clinic or other place specified by the c ourt.
(5) Any person who fails to comply with the t erms of a supervision order or any direct ions given by a c ourt under
subsect ion (4) or who prevents a pe rson from visiting a child on behalf of the Health Service Executive or who
obstruct s or impedes any such person visiting a child in pursuance of s uch an order shall be guilty of an of fence a nd
shall be liable on summary convic tion to a fine not exc eeding £500 or, at the disc retion of the court, t o
imprisonment for a t erm not exceeding 6 months or both such f ine and such imprisonment.
(6) A supervision order shall remain in force for a period of 12 months or such shorter period as may be spec ified in
the order and, in any event , shall ceas e to have effec t when the person in respect of whom the order is made
ceases to be a child.”
2. The applicat ion is for a Supervision Order in respect of t he six children of the respondent parents. T he children range in age from
mid teens to infants. The applicat ion is for an order for a period of 12 months. The HSE also applies for directions t o be given
pursuant to sec tion 19(4) of the Act as follows:
a) that the parents should not use physical disc ipline on their children;
b) that the parents will co-operate with the s ocial work department during the a ssessment process; a nd
c) t hat t he social work department be allowed to interview the four older c hildren, and that they be interviewed on
their own.
3. The applicat ion first ca me before the Court on 2 December 2010. On that dat e, both parents were in Court and were
unrepresented. The c ase was adjourned to 16 of December 2010, to allow the parent s to se ek legal advice and representat ion. The
Court urged the parents t o obtain such representation. T he applicants request ed that the adjournment would be conditional on the
parents giving an undertaking not to use physic al discipline on their children. Both parents indicated t heir unwillingness to give suc h
an undertaking. The Court dec lined the applicant’s request
4. On 16 of December 2010, the father was in Court and unrepresented, the mother was not present due to illness. The Court offered
to adjourn the matter again, t o allow mother to att end and to allow further time for the parents t o sec ure legal representation. The
father c learly and categorica lly stated t hat he and the mother wanted t he hearing of the matt er to procee d on that day, and did not
wish to adjourn the matter any further, either to secure legal representation or ot herwise. The matter proc eeded to hearing.
5. The principal of t he school whic h is attended by the 3rd and 4th c hild gave evidence that, on or about 31 Oct ober 2010 or 1
November 2010, the 3rd child (aged 8) had reported being beat en at home. The principal confirmed that the c hild had used the word
‘beaten’. He said that this word as used by the c hild did not necessarily impute any particular level of violence. The sc hool spoke to
the c hild, and to the parent s. The s chool notified the HSE of the report rec eived from the child.

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