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  • The mother was English, and the father was Libyan, with a British passport. They had three children, aged 3, 5 and 6. The mother had left Libya in 2018 but the children had remained there. She now applied under the inherent jurisdiction for orders that the court should protect the children, invoking "the ancient parens patriae jurisdiction": the Crown's obligation to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. She had not raised this in previous unsuccessful proceedings, relying instead on habitual residence and/or Article 10. Had this been a case about money, Mostyn J said, the failure to advance the parens patriae case first time round would not have been justified and therefore the current case would have stopped for Henderson abuse. However, because this was a case about children, he decided that this should instead be considered as part of the overall discretionary exercise as to whether the jurisdiction should be exercised. He found that the circumstances in this case were not sufficiently compelling to require the court to exercise its protective jurisdiction. The evidence showed that an order for repatriation which sought the assistance of the Libyan authorities would be futile. It did not show there had been a major deterioration in the security situation in Libya since the relocation to Libya, to which the wife had consented, nor since the previous order had been made, such that would justify it being set aside. The mother's application was dismissed. Mostyn J urged the father to allow the mother to have meaningful contact with her children. Judgment, 20/01/2021, free
  • The husband and wife had been engaged in highly acrimonious and litigious financial remedy proceedings since late 2019. This hearing concerned the husband's application for the wife to pay, on an indemnity basis, his costs of a preliminary issue regarding the beneficial ownership of five ships and whether the couple were indebted to the second to sixth respondents. The latter issue had been settled following a payment from those respondents to the wife. Lieven J stated that the wife's conduct had been "fairly extraordinary". She had alleged a conspiracy to defraud her of millions of pounds of matrimonial assets, and then decided not to pursue those allegations, having already put the husband to enormous expense and depriving him of the chance to clear his name. It was a basic principle, said Lieven J, that fraud should not be pleaded without sufficient evidence. Where a party pleaded fraud, and then withdrew that claim, the argument that they should pay the other party's costs was even stronger than in the withdrawal of other types of claim. The wife would pay the husband's costs of and occasioned by the preliminary issues on an indemnity basis. Judgment, 15/01/2021, free
  • The Court of Appeal considered how a court should assess reasonable and immediate needs when faced with an application for maintenance pending suit. News, 14/01/2021, free
  • The child arrangements order being appealed by the mother had been made by consent at the FHDRA, and had provided for the three children to live with her and spend time with the father. No reasons were given by the magistrates, and there were no references in the order to allegations of domestic abuse, safeguarding checks or to Practice Direction 12J – Child Arrangements and Contact Orders: Domestic Abuse and Harm, Family Procedure Rules 2010. The mother's grounds of appeal also asserted that a report supporting the terms of the order had been made without observing the father with the children and without the author having given proper consideration to the allegations of domestic violence. HHJ Cove found that the magistrates' decision was plainly wrong. No reasons had been given, the court had not had regard to PD 12J, the safeguarding checks were incomplete, and there had been no analysis of whether the consent order should be made nor of the risk of harm to the children. The order was set aside. Judgment, 18/12/2020, free
  • The parents had lived together for twelve years. During previous proceedings regarding contact with their two children, the mother had alleged domestic abuse on the father's part, both towards her and towards a subsequent partner. Following a conviction for assault on a third partner, he applied to enforce an order for contact, in response to which the mother raised the issue of his violent behaviour towards multiple partners. The district judge found that there had been domestic abuse, but later recused herself after realising that her son and the mother were members of the same sports club. The judge then agreed to re-open the district judge's earlier findings of fact on the basis of apparent bias. The mother appealed with regard to the recusal and the decision to re-open the findings. Peter Jackson LJ found that the judge's decision had been both wrong and unfair. The district judge had not discovered that her son and the mother knew each other until months after her findings of fact had been made. King and Phillips LJJ agreed. The father's application was dismissed, and the proceedings were remitted for the welfare decision to be taken on the basis of the district judge's findings of fact by another circuit judge. Judgment, 17/12/2020, free

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