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24.—(1) As soon as practicable after the application has been issued in proceedings—
(a)the court will—
(i)if section 48(1) (restrictions on making adoption orders) applies, consider whether it is proper to hear the application;
(ii)subject to paragraph (4), set a date for the first directions hearing;
(iii)appoint a children’s guardian in accordance with rule 59;
(iv)appoint a reporting officer in accordance with rule 69;
(v)consider whether a report relating to the welfare of the child is required, and if so, request such a report in accordance with rule 73;
(vi)set a date for the hearing of the application; and
(vii)do anything else that may be set out in a practice direction; and
(b)a court officer will—
(i)subject to receiving confirmation in accordance with paragraph (2)(b)(ii), give notice of any directions hearing set by the court to the parties and to any children’s guardian, reporting officer or children and family reporter;
(ii)serve a copy of the application form (but, subject to sub-paragraphs (iii) and (iv), not the documents attached to it) on the persons referred to in the relevant practice direction;
(iii)send a copy of the certified copy of the entry in the register of live-births or Adopted Children Register and any health report attached to an application for an adoption order to—
(aa)any children’s guardian, reporting officer or children and family reporter; and
(bb)the local authority to whom notice under section 44 (notice of intention to adopt or apply for a section 84 order) has been given;
(iv)if notice under rule 27 has been given (request to dispense with consent of parent or guardian), in accordance with that rule inform the parent or guardian of the request and send a copy of the statement of facts to—
(aa)the parent or guardian;
(bb)any children’s guardian, reporting officer or children and family reporter;
(cc)any local authority to whom notice under section 44 (notice of intention to adopt or apply for a section 84 order) has been given; and
(dd)any adoption agency which has placed the child for adoption; and
(v)do anything else that may be set out in a practice direction.
(2) In addition to the matters referred to in paragraph (1), as soon as practicable after an application for an adoption order or a section 84 order has been issued the court or the court officer will—
(a)where the child is not placed for adoption by an adoption agency—
(i)ask either the Service or the Assembly to file any relevant form of consent to an adoption order or a section 84 order; and
(ii)ask the local authority to prepare a report on the suitability of the prospective adopters if one has not already been prepared; and
(b)where the child is placed for adoption by an adoption agency, ask the adoption agency to—
(i)file any relevant form of consent to—
(aa)the child being placed for adoption;
(bb)an adoption order;
(cc)a future adoption order under section 20; or
(dd)a section 84 order;
(ii)confirm whether a statement has been made under section 20(4)(a) (statement of wish not to be informed of any application for an adoption order) and if so, to file that statement;
(iii)file any statement made under section 20(4)(b) (withdrawal of wish not to be informed of any application for an adoption order) as soon as it is received by the adoption agency; and
(iv)prepare a report on the suitability of the prospective adopters if one has not already been prepared.
(3) In addition to the matters referred to in paragraph (1), as soon as practicable after an application for a placement order has been issued—
(a)the court will consider whether a report giving the local authority’s reasons for placing the child for adoption is required, and if so, will direct the local authority to prepare such a report; and
(b)the court or the court officer will ask either the Service or the Assembly to file any form of consent to the child being placed for adoption.
(4) Where it considers it appropriate the court may, instead of setting a date for a first directions hearing, give the directions provided for by rule 26.
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