Morag Wise QC appeared as Senior Counsel for the Respondents (prospective adoptive parents) in the case of ANS (Respondent) and another v ML (Appellant)  UKSC. The issue in the appeal was whether section 31(3)(d) of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 is compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Appellant (the natural mother of a young child) contended that the provision was incompatible and outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. Section 31(3)(d) allows the court to dispense with parental consent to adoption where the welfare of the child requires it, notwithstanding that the parent may be able to satisfactorily discharge their parental responsibilities or exercise their parental rights.
The Respondents succeeded in opposing the challenge. The Supreme Court held that the use of general language in the context of adoption was not inconsistent with Convention rights. The use of the word “requires” in the provision echoes the language of the European court and should be understood as meaning that there must be an overriding requirement, for the sake of the child’s welfare, over his or her lifetime, that the consent of the parent be dispensed with.