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Deciding best interests: general principles and the cases of Norway and the UK

David Archard (Lancaster University, UK)
Marit Skivenes (University of Bergen, Norway)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 2 December 2010



This article addresses the difficult matter of interpreting the best interest principle, and offers advice for those who must make laws, and those who make decisions within the constraints of those laws. Our approach rests on an assumption that conclusions about best interest are best reached through a reasoned deliberative process. We suggest that legislators should not write substantive assumptions about what is best for every child into their laws; rather, they should indicate a non‐exhaustive list of key relevant considerations that decision‐makers can review and evaluate in each and every case. Further, the child's own perspective should be imperative in all deliberations about best interest, and a distinction must be made between objective fact and what is invoked as a substantive and contestable assumption. The article supplies a benchmark against which we may review and judge the actual efforts of legislators and decision‐makers to determine what is best for any child.



Archard, D. and Skivenes, M. (2010), "Deciding best interests: general principles and the cases of Norway and the UK", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 43-54.



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