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  • An order had been made for the nine-year-old son to be returned to Russia. The father had arranged for the child to make an application for asylum, and one of the questions to be resolved was now whether this prohibited the enforcement of the return order. Mr Darren Howe QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, adjudged that the commencement of an asylum application by or on behalf of a child did indeed prohibit the enforcement of a return order made under the Hague Convention 1980. No exception was available under the law even if the court had concluded that the asylum application was a sham and a tactic to delay the return order. He ordered a stay of the return order until 15 days after the tribunal's decision upon the asylum application. But if there were thus to be a significant delay, the issue of contact between mother and child in the meantime would need to be addressed. A further hearing as to this would follow. Judgment, 09/09/2020, free
  • The proceedings concerned a father's application for contact with children aged two and five. The mother opposed contact on the basis that the father had subjected her to domestic and sexual abuse. She now appealed from a case management decision to exclude evidence of coercive and controlling behaviour by the father towards a subsequent partner. Peter Jackson LJ, after considering the approach to be taken to similar fact evidence in civil and family proceedings, and the standard of proof involved, stated that the judge's decision could not stand. The necessary analysis concerning whether the disputed evidence should be admitted had not been carried out, and the judge had been mistaken (as had the district judge) about the stance that had been taken by the court previously. Hickinbottom LJ and David Richards LJ agreed. The appeal was allowed, the evidence reinstated, and the judge's order set aside. The case was reallocated to High Court level with case management and fact-finding hearings to follow. Judgment, 25/08/2020, free
  • This had been an application, made by the father and resisted by the mother, for the summary return of two girls aged eleven and fourteen to Dubai, but the father conceded that his application should not be granted. Instead, he asked Lieven J to make an order for direct contact with the children, including contact outside the jurisdiction. The issue then became the risk of him retaining the girls in Dubai. The view of the children, as expressed to a Cafcass officer, was that they were happy to travel to Europe with their father, but had concerns about travelling to Dubai with him. Lieven J made a finding that the children were now habitually resident in England. Her view was that it would be exceptionally harmful to their emotional state for them to be retained in Dubai. Safeguards were necessary to mitigate that risk, and to ensure that in such a situation they would be returned to England with relatively little difficulty. An agreement between the parents, setting out their acceptance that the children were habitually resident in England and should be returned there if necessary, should be lodged with the Dubai courts. Once that was done, Lieven J envisaged travel to Dubai as being possible. Judgment, 28/07/2020, free
  • The Court of Appeal had decided that the daughter must be distanced entirely from a cult with which the mother was involved. The mother had said she would renounce the cult, speak to a therapist and consult a dietician in respect of the child, but the Court of Appeal had found that her undertakings wholly failed to acknowledge the change in approach required were she to maintain care of the child. The case had been remitted to the Family Division for further consideration. At this hearing, Williams J found that the mother's witness statement did not paint a persuasive picture of a significant change in attitude. There was almost no engagement with the harm caused to the child, the process leading to that harm, or the damaging nature of the beliefs and practices of the cult. Were the child to remain in the mother's care, the process of estrangement would continue and the child's relationship with the father would be terminated. The child would live with her father and spend such time with her mother as the father might agree in consultation with the independent social worker involved in the case. Judgment, 20/07/2020, free
  • An appeal from a case management decision made in proceedings concerning the welfare of a six-year-old girl. The parents (the mother European, the father English) had been separated for some years. The mother made allegations of sexual abuse against the father, and contact was resumed after a finding of fact that there had been no sexual impropriety. The conclusion of an expert psychological report was that it would be in the child's interests for the father to become the primary carer. The Guardian recommended an immediate change of residence. The mother applied for an adjournment on the basis that the matter could not be determined fairly at a remote hearing. The application was refused, but at the start of the hearing, after reading the decision in Re P (A Child: Remote Hearings) [2020] EWFC 32, the judge vacated the hearing, with the matter to be relisted before her for a face-to-face final hearing in due course. The father appealed on the grounds that the judge had misapplied the judgment in Re P; there had been no material change in the circumstances between the two hearings; insufficient weight had been afforded to the child's welfare; and insufficient regard was given to the overriding objective in FPR rule 1.1. Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division, allowed the appeal. There had not been new material in the father's position statement, and the judge's approach to the child's welfare had been in error. The decision to vacate the remote hearing would be set aside, and the matter remitted to the judge to redetermine the question of how and when the final hearing was to take place. Judgment, 05/06/2020, free

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Latest training

  • Recording of webinar broadcast live on 23 February 2017. Webcast, 02/03/2017, members only
  • In this webcast, which was recorded on 1 September 2016, Charlotte Trace, barrister at 29 Bedford Row, takes us through how to make private law Children Act applications, principally applications under section 8 of the Act (namely for contact, residence, specific issue and prohibited steps orders) and applications under section 11 for contact activity directions and conditions, and for enforcement. Webcast, 02/09/2016, members only
  • Piers Pressdee QC of 29 Bedford Row reviews the major developments within the private children law field in the last year. He focusses on the case-law, identifying the key decisions and seeking to set that case-law within context. Webcast, 24/02/2016, members only
  • Webinar recorded on 15 January 2015. Dafydd Griffiths of 29 Bedford Row reviews the private children law cases of 2014 and picks out some themes to look out for in 2015. Webcast, 15/01/2015, members only
  • Webcast on recent developments in private children law. Webcast, 16/10/2013, members only


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