Family Law Hub

Supreme Court considers whether third party allegations should be disclosed in contact case

  • Yesterday (29 November 2012), the Supreme Court heard the appeal in In the Matter of X (reported as J (A Child: Disclosure) [2012] EWCA Civ 1204).

    To recap, the case concerns a ten-year old girl ("G").  Her mother ("M") and father ("F") married 2000 but separated two years later when she was just six months old. F applied for a contact order in 2003 and in 2009 a final contact order was made providing for G to stay with F for two weeks every February and four weeks every summer. A young person, known only as "X", subsequently made allegations of serious and sustained sexual abuse against F that allegedly took place when she was a child. X made the allegations in confidence and did not want to take them further; she initially refused to have her identity or the detail of her allegations disclosed even to her own family. Social services contacted M, telling her that allegations of sexual abuse had been made against F and that she should take steps to protect G. As a result, M applied to vary the contact order.  F and G's guardian applied for disclosure of X's identity, the substance of her allegations and her medical records. A psychiatric report on X identified that forcing her to disclose her identity and give evidence in the proceedings would have a seriously detrimental effect on her health. Prior to the matter being transferred to the High Court, social services inadvertently disclosed X's identity to M and, indeed, the only person who does not know X's identity is now F. The High Court refused to order X's disclosure but the Court of Appeal reversed the decision.

    The Supreme Court needs to consider the question of whether the identity of a third-party accuser (and the substance of their allegations) should be disclosed to the parties involved contact proceedings. As soon as judgment is handed down, we'll have it together with a case comment on Family Law Hub.

News, published: 30/11/2012

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Published: 30/11/2012

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