Family Law Hub

Appeals

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  • The mother's application for an extension of time to appeal, and for permission to appeal, against a child arrangements order. The mother said that the delay had been due to the shock caused by the order, and by her being physically unwell. The five grounds of appeal included that the judge had placed undue weight of the views of the child, and insufficient weight on factors such as the need for balance in the child's life, the views of the former caseworker, the risk of harm, and the fairness of the hearing. Williams J found that the explanation given by the mother for the delay was unsatisfactory. In his view, the judge's conclusion that the daughter's views were her own and should be given significant weight appeared to be unassailable. The criticism regarding the daughter's alleged need for greater balance was not supported. The Recorder was justified in departing from the caseworker's recommendations. The history of the case did not suggest an obvious risk of the child becoming estranged from the mother. Williams J was unable to discern anything which impinged upon the fairness of the process. He refused to grant an extension of time to appeal, and he refused to grant permission to appeal. Judgment, 16/06/2020, free
  • The father sought permission to appeal out of time against a district judge's finding of fact that he had abused his daughter. Francis J decided that the findings were so unsafe and their consequences so series that they could not be allowed to stand, despite the exceptional delay in appealing. He noted with surprise the district judge's assertion that the mother's counsel could conduct the cross-examination of the expert witness on behalf of the litigant-in-person father as well as the mother, a suggestion which Francis J said was "incorrect and plainly wrong". The expert had not been cross-examined on his misunderstanding of a previous judgment in the case, and in failing to depart from the expert's view the district judge fell into further error. The procedure adopted was irregular enough to cause injustice within the meaning of FPR Part 30. Permission to appeal out of time was granted, the appeal was allowed and the finding of fact set aside. The matter would be remitted for re-hearing by a High Court judge of the Family Division. Judgment, 19/05/2020, free
  • Ms Negahbani was in the process of trying to obtain financial support from Mr Sarwar, who denied that they had been married and that he was father of her child. Lieven DBE J had made a Legal Services Payment Order to cover the costs of Ms Negahbani's legal team at the hearing of two of his appeals. He did not pay the sum required, despite having ready access to extensive funds. The appeals were thus automatically dismissed. An eventual application for relief from sanctions was refused. Fair trial rights are subject to the appropriate conduct of litigation, and a litigant who deliberately breached court orders stood at risk of his applications being struck out. Judgment, 07/04/2020, free
  • Proceedings concerning a three-year-old boy. The father applied for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal, with regard to a child arrangements order that he should only have indirect contact with the child (and the child's older siblings). He argued that the Lay Justices had misunderstood a letter from the Home Office, failed to properly apply the welfare checklist under s 1(3) of the Children Act 1989, attached too much weight to his immigration status, and had heard no evidence from the parties. HHJ Middleton-Roy considered that there was considerable weight to each of those grounds. The conclusion of the Lay Justices was shown to be both wrong and unjust. Time for the appeal was extended and the appeal was allowed. The matter would be re-allocated to a district judge. Judgment, 11/03/2020, free
  • The Court of Appeal recently gave judgment in Read v Panzone & Anor [2019] EWCA Civ 1662, an appeal concerning s37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The Court gave significant warnings to first instance judges about the dangers of making findings of fact on alternate bases: although judges may be tempted to take this ‘belt and braces’ approach, it may simply muddy the waters and confuse the issues for the parties. News, 06/12/2019, free

Latest know-how

  • In a tweet: Child determined to have insufficient understanding to conduct an appeal independently of a child’s guardian. Case note, 04/11/2019, members only
  • The judge had been asked by the wife to reconsider his conclusions on the grounds that there was a significant and material omission in the figures. Case note, 02/10/2019, members only
  • A successful appeal in relocation proceedings where the decision of the trial judge, who had refused the mother's ("M") application to relocate, was restored. Case note, 19/01/2018, members only
  • Appeal by husband against a suspended committal order, variation order and order for costs. The committal order was set aside due to procedural errors, the costs order falling with it, but the appeal against the variation order failed. Case note, 09/09/2016, members only
  • Financial provision case which has been running for 16 years. The case was decided against the W and she appealed, arguing that the delay and the judge's reliance on counsel's submissions had led the judge into error. Appeal dismissed. Case note, 05/08/2013, free

Latest training

  • Richard Bates from 29 Bedford Row explains the appeal process. Webcast, 26/09/2014, members only

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