(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, Longmore, Leveson LJJ, 24 January 2012)
When the mother and child relocated to the UK from Turkey the father initiated proceedings under the Hague Convention. Through her barrister the mother consented to the return order but when she refused to comply and dismissed her solicitors she claimed the barrister had subjected her to extreme pressure amounting to duress.
The mother's barrister was not provided with the mother's statements containing her specific allegations against him and the judge heard no oral evidence or had any form of a response from the barrister. The judge determined that the barrister's advice to the mother that she had no defence was pivotal to her consenting to the return order. The advice had been too dogmatic, the mother's consent was not fully informed and it was appropriate to revoke the return order. The father appealed.
It had been essential that the mother's barrister had a full description of the complaints against him particularly considering that they involved his professional conduct. It was not possible for an adequate investigation to take place without the barrister having an opportunity to respond to the complaints and, therefore, the mother would not be released from the consent order.