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Glossary

Apnoea     

Suspension of breathing which temporarily prevents air entering the lungs.

Appeal

Process during which a higher court is asked to review and amend or overturn the decision of a lower court.

Applicant

The title given to the party who makes the application (for example, in care proceedings, the applicant is the local authority)

Barrister

Also known as Counsel, a barrister is a lawyer who has been called to the bar and who specialises in courtroom advocacy (orally presenting the case).  In care proceedings, barristers can only be instructed through a solicitor.

Bridging veins

The veins in the brain which cross the dura in order to drain blood from the upper surface of the brain.

Burden of proof

Refers to whose duty it is to prove the legal case, e.g. in care proceedings, the burden rests with the local authority; that is, it is for them to prove (to the required standard) that the allegations happened.

Care Proceedings

Legal proceedings brought by the local authority against a parent/parents when they have concerns that a child is, or is likely to, suffer significant harm.

Cerebral spinal fluid

A clear fluid that covers the brain in order to protect it.  It is found in the subarachnoid space, around and inside the brain and spinal cord.

Children Act 1989

A key piece of legislation in care proceedings.

Children’s guardian

Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service) worker appointed to represent the interests of the child/children involved in court proceedings.

Contusion

An injury in which the skin is not broken, like a bruise.  On the brain, it refers to a bruise to the brain tissue which is caused by an impact of some kind.

Dura

The dura is the outer layer of the meninges surrounding the brain and spinal cord.  The other two meningeal layers are the pia and the arachnoid.

Encephalopathy

Refers to brain dysfunction which can be caused by many different things.

Fabricated or Induced Illness

Previously known as Munchausen’s syndrome, refers to a mental illness in which a person fakes or induces illness in themselves or their child for personal gain (usually emotional gain).

Fact Finding Hearing

A form of trial in which a judge hears evidence from various sources in order to determine if the allegations are true or not.  The purpose is literally to find the facts.

Final Hearing

The last hearing in care proceedings in which final decisions and/or orders are made in relation to a child’s welfare.

Fracture

A complete or incomplete break in the bone. There are numerous types of fracture including spiral, displaced, undisplaced, oblique, transverse, etc.

Frenulum

There are three frenula within the mouth – under the tongue, inside the lower lip and inside the upper lip.  A torn frenulum is often thought to be a sign of NAI.

Hypoxic-ischaemic injury

Damage resulting from a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) and/or blood (ischaemia) to the brain.

Interim care order

A temporary (although sometimes long lasting) order which gives a local authority parental responsibility of a child and therefore places the child under the care of the local authority.  This ensures that the authority is able to make important decisions about the child, such as where he/she should live. The aim is to ensure the child is protected whilst investigations are being made into the parenting.

Interim hearing

A hearing within family proceedings which will deal with case management or other issues prior to a final hearing.  Interim hearings can include directions, case management conferences, issues resolution hearing, etc.

Interim supervision order

A temporary (although sometimes long lasting) order which  allows the local authority to supervise the situation by advising, assisting and befriending the supervised child.

Intracranial

Within the head/cranium.

Judgment

The reasons given for the making of a decision.  Judgments are usually handed down at the end of a fact finding hearing, final hearing or other contested hearing.

Legal Services Commission

The providers of public funding (legal aid) in legal proceedings within England and Wales.

Local authority

The governing body of a district/area.  The local authority is usually the council area in which you reside.  They are the application, acting on behalf of their social services department, within care proceedings.

Meninges

The three membranes that cover the brain (the pia, dura and arachnoid).

Metaphyseal fracture

Also known as a metaphyseal legion, it refers to an injury to the growth plate at the end of a bone.  During childhood the metaphysis is made up of cartilage.

Parental responsibility

Mothers receive parental responsibility automatically but fathers do not.  The law does not fully define parental responsibility but sets out various roles, including providing a home and education to a child, protecting a child and determining religion, etc.

Periosteal reaction

Refers to the formulation of new bone which can be in response to an injury (fracture) or some other kind of stimulation to the periosteum.  Often, it is seen when a fracture is healing.

Perpetrator

In care proceedings, this refers to the person who is found to have caused or perpetrated the allegation.  A pool of perpetrators refers to a collective of people (two or more) who it has been found by the court may have caused the injury in question.

Petechia

Minute red/purple spots on the surface of the skin as a result of tiny haemorrhages of blood vessels under the skin.

Purpura

A small haemorrhage(s) in the skin, often red or purple in colour, that do not blanch on applying pressure.

Non-accidental injury

Injury caused to a child deliberately, recklessly or negligently.

Respondent

The person responding to an application.  For example, in care proceedings, the respondents are usually the parents and children.

Retina

A multilayered membrane at the back of the eye.

Retinal haemorrhage

Bleeding within one or several of the layers of the retina.

Shaken baby syndrome

Also known as non-accidental head injury, describes the symptoms of intracranial injuries caused when an infant is shaken.

Significant harm

This is not fully defined within the law but harm is defined as any ill treatment or impairment of health or development, including from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another.

Solicitor

A lawyer who is able to deal with any legal matter and who a client has direct access to.

Standard of proof

The level of proof required.  In criminal cases, the standard of proof is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, whereas in the civil and family courts it is ‘on the balance of probabilities’.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage

Bleeding into the area between the pia matter surrounding the brain and the arachnoid membrane (the subarachnoid space).

Subdural haemorrhage

Bleeding beneath the dura layer of the brain.

Threshold

The level that a local authority must cross in order to prove their case.

Vitreous

The vitreous is a clear jelly-like substance within the middle of the eye.