Good morning, thank you for your patience and the clarification over your specific question.
Child assessment orders are quite rare, as you have stated.
For that reason I went back to the Family Court Practice 'red book' to double check before responding.
The test for s31 orders is "that the child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm"
The test under s43 orders is "reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer"
It seems that the ICO in place is an ICO with placement at home, which in itself is also quite unusual.
My view is that the two statutes are not necessarily incompatible. This is on the basis of an ICO at home.
In this context, "is likely to suffer" in s31 and "reasonable cause to suspect the child is likely to suffer" in s43 effectively amount the the same thing. Given that the removal was not sought previously the ICO is in place on the basis of likelihood of significant harm not actual significant harm, or the child would already have been removed.
However, I'm of the view that it was perhaps not necessary for the judge to make the s43 order as under the ICO the LA could have asked for urgent removal in any event on the basis that mother was failing to comply with assessment under the current care plan and the child was likely to suffer harm as a result. The court could simply have endorsed the LA care plan (which presumably included this assessment) and this would have been sufficient.
An ICO with placement at home relies on the cooperation of the parents. Without this cooperation and ability to work with the LA for assessment purposes, including court ordered assessments, the LA will inevitably apply to remove the child. Further, the 26 week timetable is going to be thrown out the window if the delay is caused by the mother's refusal to cooperate with court ordered assessments.
Obviously this is quite technical, but I hope that the explanation clears up why your solcitor is not challenging the LA on this point.
Can I clarify anything further for you?