New Judgment: In the matter of A (A Child)  UKSC 60
12 Wednesday Dec 2012
A local authority should be ordered to disclose social work records to the parties in proceedings concerning a child (‘A’), which would reveal the identity of a young woman (‘X’) who has made allegations that she suffered sexual abuse from A’s father (‘F’) when she was a child. It was submitted on behalf of X that the impact of disclosure on her would be so severe as to violate her right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment protected by the ECHR, art 3, or at the very least interfere with her right to a private life under art 8. On the other side, A’s right to be protected from abuse also potentially engaged art 3, and restricting contact interfered with the right to family life under art 8 on the part of A, M and F. All three of the parties to the contact proceedings – A, M and F – were entitled to the right to a fair trial of those proceedings protected by art 6. Both art 3 and art 6 rights are absolute. The only possible conclusion was that the fair trial and family life rights of A, M and F were a sufficient justification for the interference with the privacy rights of X. It did not follow, however, that X would have to give evidence in person in these proceedings. Disclosure might be enough to resolve matters either way. If a hearing was required, up to date medical evidence would be obtained for X and measures to protect her from courtroom confrontation could be considered.