Independent Review Mechanism


This chapter sets out the Independent Review process which is accessible to prospective adopters should they be dissatisfied with decisions made regarding their registration status. Please also see the Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters, Deregistration and Allegations Against Prospective Adopters Chapters for further details of the circumstances in which such decisions can be taken.


In March 2021, this chapter was amended to include a link to the Attending a Review Panel - Information sheet.

1. Introduction and Overview

All of the following provisions only apply to prospective adopters who receive a qualifying determination. These provisions apply only to the approval of adopters and not to the matching process.

The Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) became operational on 30th April 2004. Regulations give adopters the right to refer their case to the review panel where an adoption agency proposes not to approve them as adopters or to end their registration.

The proposal not to approve or to end registration in known as the 'qualifying determination'

The adopter may still choose to make representation to the agency panel but cannot make representation to both the agency and the IRM.

The IRM cannot overturn the agency's determination

The function of the IRM is to make a recommendation to the agency.

The agency must take into account both the recommendation of the original panel and the IRM in reaching its final decision.

There is provision for the cost of the review to be met by the determining agency.

The IRM provision does not include those prospective adopters applying to adopt under the Hague Convention.

The position of the Liaison Officer resides with the Head of Adoption.

2. Duties of the Liaison Officer

Within 7 days of the date of the notification of the application to send to the administrator, the agency's determination, its reasons, and if different to the panel recommendation the papers which were before the panel together with any subsequent information

To ensure that any enquires from the IRM are dealt with swiftly

To notify finance any time an application is made as CoramBAAF will send an invoice to recover the cost of the review.

To notify the head of the IRM of the final decision on the suitability of the adopters

3. Procedure

The applicant makes an application in writing, including the grounds on which the application is made following the receipt of the letter form the decision maker for the agency.

All relevant information is all the documents provided to the original panel, any relevant information obtained subsequently, the reasons for qualifying determination, the recommendation of the original panel. The IRM panel does not have access to the original panel minutes.

While this process is underway no final decision can be made by the agency.

The IRM will notify the agency of the date and time of the review.

The administrator to the IRM will send a written acknowledgement to the prospective adopter. The applicant may send further information up to two weeks before the review date. The applicant may also expand on the grounds at the meeting.

It is possible for the applicants to bring a 'friend' to the review, this is to offer support not to speak on the applicant's behalf or act as an advocate.

A representative from the agency will be invited to attend.

No expenses may be claimed from the review panel by the applicants or the agency for attending the review.

The IRM has the power to request further information from the agency, for instance that the Medical Adviser liaises with the review panel's medical adviser. Legal advice will be sought only from the IRM.

Following the review the panel will make a written recommendation which will be sent to the agency and the applicants.

The Liaison Officer on receiving the recommendation will notify the decision-maker within 24 hours.

The Agency Decision Maker must make a decision on the suitability of the adopter within 7 working days of receiving the recommendation and faxed to the appropriate adoption team.

The decision will be conveyed orally to the adopter within 24 hours by the adoption social worker.

The decision will be confirmed in writing by the decision-maker within 7 working days. The decision maker must state the reasons for the decision. If the IRM panel's adoption recommendations and the agency decision is different, the prospective adopters should be given information about the panel's decision in this letter.

A copy of the recommendation will be sent to the Head of Adoption, who as the Liaison Officer will keep one copy and send one to the IRM.

The process for the use of the IRM within the context of a qualifying determination with respect to post commencement adoptions is contained in the relevant part of the procedures.