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In our series of articles exploring parental responsibility, here we explore the interaction between parental responsibility and wardship.

What is wardship?

Wardship is an old concept which predates the 1989 Children Act.

Under the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction, the Court can make orders with a view to ensuring that a child who is made a Ward of Court is protected and properly taken care of.

Examples of what the Court can do within wardship include making a wide range of injunctions for a child’s protection such as: –

  • Orders to restrain publicity.
  • Orders to prevent an undesirable association.
  • Order relating to medical treatment.
  • Orders to protect abducted children, or children where the case has another substantial foreign element.
  • Orders for the return of children to and from another state.

Wardship means that the High Court is very involved in a child’s life for the duration of the Wardship as the Court would be called upon to make decisions.

Wardship cannot be used to achieve something that could be addressed under the Children Act.

Parental responsibility

During the time that the child is made a Ward of Court, the Court will have parental responsibility for the child.

The day-to-day oversight and care of the child who is the Ward of Court would rest with whoever had parental responsibility for the child (their parent/potentially a Local Authority, or a person who had been granted parental responsibility). Under Wardship however any significant decision to be made concerning a child would need the Court’s agreement.


If you need more information or advice on issues surrounding Parental Responsibility, please contact our Children team.

This article is part of a series on Parental Responsibility. If you would like to learn more about Parental Responsibility, please click here for the full series.