.button { text-transform: none; }

Family Law

Eighth edition

by Kate Standley

Updates for Chapter 8: Children

May 2014 update

8.1 Introduction

8.1 (b) Children’s Commissioners

A more rights-based role for the Children’s Commissioner for England.

Section 107 of Part 6 (‘The Children’s Commissioner’) of the Children and Families Act 2014 makes changes to section 2 of the Children Act 2004 to provide that: ‘The Children’s Commissioner’s primary function is promoting and protecting the rights of children in England’ (s.2(1)); and that ‘The primary function includes promoting awareness of the views and interests of children in England’ (s.2(2). A new section 2(3) lists a number of functions which the Commissioner will perform in discharging his or her primary function, including monitoring the implementation in England of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (s.2(3)(i)).

8.4 The autonomy of children – the Gillick case

8.4(a) Autonomy rights and medical treatment

The following two cases show that the courts’ approach to deciding whether teenagers are competent to consent to or refuse medical treatment depends on the nature of the medical treatment and the reasons for such treatment. Thus, where the treatment is needed to protect the life of the young person and where the young person is refusing, rather than consenting, to treatment, then the courts are likely to hold (applying the welfare principle) that the intervention of the court is needed.
A different approach, on the other hand was taken in the following case, where the young person’s refusal to consent to medical treatment was overruled:

Further reading and references

Fortin J, ‘Children’s rights – flattering to deceive?’ [2014] CFLQ 51.



January 2014 update

8.1(b) Introduction: Children’s Commissioners

Proposals for a more rights-based role for the Children’s Commissioner for England.

Clause 86(1) of Part 6 (‘The Children’s Commissioner’) of the Children and Families Bill 2013-14 makes changes to section 2 of the Children Act 2004 to provide that: ‘The Children’s Commissioner’s primary function is promoting and protecting the rights of children in England’ (section 2(1)); and that ‘The primary function includes promoting awareness of the views and interests of children in England’. A new section 2(3) to be inserted into the 2004 Act lists a number of functions which the Commissioner will perform in discharging his or her primary function, including monitoring the implementation in England of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (section 2(3)(i)).

8.5(a) Corporal punishment of children by their parents

In December 2013 the Children’s Commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson, called for corporal punishment (such as smacking) by parents to become illegal. In an interview with The Independent newspaper, she revealed that she is in favour of a total ban under which parents caught smacking their children would risk criminal proceedings. Describing it as a moral issue, she said: ‘The morals are that, taken to its extreme, physical chastisement is actually physical abuse and I have never understood where you can draw the line between one and the other. Better that it were not permitted’. However, despite her views, Dr Atkinson said she would not be pushing for a ban next year as she believed such a campaign would be ‘running up a blind alley’.



back to top