Mr Justice Hayden has given Judgment in open Court in a case concerning the Modern Slavery Act on the first anniversary of the Act coming into force.
The case concerned a young child who had been given the name Alma and was thought likely to have been subject of child trafficking. Martin Downs had earlier been instructed to facilitate a public appeal for information about the parents of this young girl who has ended up in the care of a local authority.
After the failure of the initial appeal, the Court approved making an order that will allow the girl – whose age was determined by the Court to be about 22 months – to be placed for adoption. Mr Justice Hayden gave guidance on the applicable law – and, in particular, what sort of search is required to trace a child’s parents if the Court is to be able to declare that they cannot reasonably be found.
The case has now been reported as West Sussex County Council v Alma  EWHC 2009. The Judge made a further appeal for information about the parents at the time of handing down Judgment.
Martin Downs was instructed by Orbis (West Sussex County Council Legal Services). The case has received widespread publicity by the BBC, ITV and other media.
Martin Downs has appeared in a succession of recent cases concerning reuniting children with their parents under Dublin III, where the children have been adopted or the subject of surrogacy overseas.