(Family Division; Sir Nicholas Wall P; 25 October 2010)
The local authority made an ex parte application in respect of an elderly couple with capacity and who were being threatened by their son in his fifties who lived with them. There had been a history of physical assault and the son was attempting to coerce his father into transferring their property into his name, and trying to coerce the mother into moving into a care home.
The local authority sought protection for the elderly couple, without using criminal law. The local authority took the view that it was under a duty to protect the couple. The issue was whether the court had jurisdiction to make protective orders.
The court ordered the Official Solicitor to carry out a Harbin v Masterman enquiry to ensure proceedings were being brought for the couple's true benefit. Re SA  1 FLR 867 provided jurisdictional basis for the exercise of inherent jurisdiction on the facts , although it could be distinguished in some respects. Alternatively, the Local Government Act 1972, s 22 could found jurisdiction for the type of injunctive relief being claimed, but did not add to the inherent jurisdiction. The court held that it had inherent jurisdiction to make a non-molestation injunction seeking only to restrain the son from acting unlawfully and therefore not prejudicing his rights in any way.
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