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Adoption and Children Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Section 102: Pre-commencement adoptions: information

Section 102 amplifies the regulation-making power in section 9 to provide that the Department may make regulations in connection with adoptions made before the appointed day (i.e. before the commencement of sections 55 to 64).

Subsection (1) provides that regulations may make provision for assisting persons adopted before the appointed day and their natural parent(s) to obtain information about that adoption; and for facilitating contact between them and their relatives.

Subsection (2) enables regulations to make provision enabling intermediary services to be provided for the purpose of facilitating contact between people with a prescribed relationship to an adopted person and the adopted person’s natural relatives.

It is intended that regulations will provide for a system in which adoption agencies registered to provide intermediary services may, on application by an adult who was adopted under a pre-commencement adoption, a natural relative, or a person with a prescribed relationship to an adopted person, act as intermediaries and, with the informed consent of the adopted person, facilitate contact between the adopted person and their relatives. It is envisaged that in performing this role adoption agencies will be obliged, where an adoption agency arranged the adoption, to seek advice and information from that agency. It is also envisaged that the adoption agency is to be able to obtain information held by the Registrar General, where this is necessary in order to perform their intermediary function.

Subsection (3) enables regulations to make provision for the purpose of authorising or requiring adoption agencies in prescribed circumstances to disclose or provide access to prescribed information relating to pre-commencement adoptions. This will provide scope to include all provision relating to the disclosure of, and access to, pre-commencement adoption information together in one set of Regulations, rather than continuing to rely on the Adoption Agencies Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1989.

It is intended that the regulations made under subsections (4) and (5)(a) will set out the circumstances when adoption agencies and the Registrar General are to be able or required to disclose information to each other. For example, an adoption agency is to be authorised to disclose information to the Registrar General. The Registrar General is required to disclose tracing information to the adoption agency.

Provision is made under subsection (5)(b) for regulations to be made authorising or requiring the court to disclose information to an adoption agency.

Subsection (6) makes express provision for regulations to impose conditions on the disclosure of information under this section, including conditions restricting its further disclosure, so that identifying information is properly protected, for example to ensure that the appropriate consent is in place before any disclosure is made.

Regulations may be made under subsection (3) of section 9 for unauthorised disclosure of the information provided for by section 102 to be a criminal offence punishable on summary conviction with a maximum level 5 fine.

Subsection (7) provides that regulations may authorise the charging of prescribed fees for the disclosure of information by adoption agencies, the Registrar General and the court. It also provides that an adopted person may not be required to pay any fee in respect of information disclosed to them or to which they have been granted access.

Subsection (8) provides that an authorisation or requirement made under subsection (3) or (5)(a), has effect, in spite of any restriction on the disclosure of information in Chapter 5 relating to the Registers. Subsection (9) requires the approval of the Department of Finance to the making of regulations under subsections (4) to (7) which relate to the Registrar General. Subsection (10) defines terminology used in this section.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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