A father has seen his request to have a male social worker, on the basis it infringed on his human rights, rejected by the Court of Appeal.
The request was made on the basis that it was against the father’s human rights to not be able to choose a male social worker. The father claimed that not being able to choose the identity of the social worker in the case did not take into account his personal cultural and religious beliefs. The father and mother are members of the Hassidic Haredi Orthodox Jewish community.
Two female candidates were suggested by the mother to assess the case, with the father putting forward a male. The father then stated he wanted to know who the assessor was arguing that if his wishes were not taken into account it would infringe on his Article 6 rights due to potential prejudice against himself.
The mother said she wished to have a female social worker who she would feel “more comfortable” with, as the mother alleged she was a victim of domestic abuse from the father.
The father has applied for child arrangements, a contact order, and an order seeking to prevent the mother from changing the child’s school.
Lord Justice Baker, who oversaw the appeal, rejected the suggestion that not being allowed to choose the gender of the social worker infringed on his human rights, but did not dismiss the possibility that the court would appoint a social worker based on their gender. He stated:
“Justice requires the court to adopt a procedure which pays due respect to persons whose rights are significantly affected by its decisions.
It is, however, imperative that any application that the expert instructed be of one specified gender must be clearly explained and fully supported by evidence demonstrating why such a stipulation should be included.
The [initial] position statement reported that the father considered it ‘essential’ that the assessment be carried out by an ISW with experience of undertaking assessments within the Orthodox Jewish community. If the father at that stage had also regarded it as ‘essential’ for religious or cultural reasons that the assessment be carried out by a man, one might have expected the position statement to say so. It did not.”