Brent London Borough Council v (1) N(Foster Carers) & (2) P(a child) [2005] EWHC 1676 (Fam)

The applicants, Brent London Borough Council (Brent) sought permission from the court to disclose to the father (S) of a child in care (P) the medical status of the respondent foster carer (N) with whom P was living.  It became known that N was HIV positive and Brent proposed that P should go and live with S.  The issue for the court was whether Brent were under an obligation to disclose to S that N was HIV positive and if so whether the duty was outweighed by N’s right to confidentiality.

The court decided that to disclose a person’s medical condition to a third party without their consent was a breach of the ECHR Article 8.  The court had to weigh in the balance the importance of disclosure against the right of a parent to know about any health risk to which their child might be exposed (Re D & anor (Minors) (AP) (1995) 3 WLR 483).  A local authority is normally obliged to share pertinent information with the parents of a child in their care such as the state of the child’s health and potential exposure to infectious diseases where the risk was significant and the consequences of infection serious.  The medical evidence suggested that in this case the risk of the child contracting HIV was negligible.  Brent did not therefore have a duty to inform S since it would be a breach of his right to respect for family life.  Such a disclosure would also be a breach of the duty owed to N not to disclose confidential information relating to his health.  In addition, the disclosure was unnecessary as it was not going to affect the placing arrangements with N.  Application refused.

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