Supreme Court says order for return of baby not needed


The Supreme Court has decided that a decision by Ms Justice Laffoy to order the return of a baby to the Eastern Health Board was not necessary at the time. The order of the High Court against the putative adoptive parents who had the baby was struck out.

The High Court case, in July 1999, concerned the custody of "baby A", whom a couple had sought to adopt privately from its mother. Private adoptions are illegal. The couple run an anti-abortion agency known as the Aadam's (sometimes Addams) Women's Centre. The Eastern Health Board sought an order against them, which was granted by Ms Justice Laffoy.

The couple appealed to the Supreme Court. In the extempore Supreme Court judgment delivered by Mr Justice Keane in October, details of which have been obtained by The Irish Times, the Chief Justice said: "At the conclusion of her judgment, the learned trial judge said she had misgivings as to the course she had embarked on." He said she had added: "I think I have decided a moot."

This meant the facts upon which the case was decided were no longer in being. The Supreme Court agreed she had decided "a moot" and it was unnecessary for her to embark on the lengthy inquiry. "On the date of the second order made in this case, the first- and second-named respondents (the couple) had ceased to have custody of baby A," said Mr Justice Keane. "At every stage from the time the case was opened before Miss Justice Laffoy, the baby was lawfully in the custody of the Eastern Health Board."