Alice Thornton appeared in the High Court on behalf of the mother of Re H (A Child: s.38(6) Assessment)  EWHC 1083 (Fam), which considered the ambit of the court’s power to order assessments of the child under Section 38(6) of the Children Act 1989.
The case concerned a proposed residential assessment at Phoenix Futures, with the parents and their eleven-week-old baby. The Local Authority relied on Re Y (A Child): s38(6) Assessment  EWCA Civ 992, where the Court of Appeal had previously considered the same issue and determined that such assessments fell outside the remit of s38(6).
HHJ Moradifar concurred with the Court of Appeal and determined that “notwithstanding the skill and zeal with which the case has been argued on behalf of the parents”, the main focus of the placement at Phoenix Futures would be rehabilitation intervention for the parents. As such, “any observations of [the child] with her parents will provide some information that may inform other assessments.” 
The Judge recognised, however, that “whilst a placement under the said statutory regime cannot be sanctioned by the court, nothing I have said in this judgment should be interpreted as discouraging any relevant agencies to engage with Phoenix Futures and in appropriate cases to invoke the permissible routes through which families can benefit from the important work that Phoenix Futures undertakes.” 
The full judgment can be found here.