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Kara Swift
Kara Swift
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Children Cases in Perspective

Date:9 OCT 2006

In Re B (A Child) and Re O (Children) [2006] EWCA Civ 1199, 25 August 2006, Lord Justice Wall dismissed two separate applications for permission to appeal by two litigants in person - both fathers who had been denied contact to their children - saying that without notice oral applications for permission to appeal made by litigants in person in family proceedings were not the stuff of which reserved judgments, law reports or publicity in the media were made. Judgments on such applications were nearly always extempore, and had a very limited legal status.

Lord Justice Wall also took the opportunity to make some general observations about the open family courts debate. He welcomed the current government consultation on transparency in family proceedings. For too long the family courts had been the subject of the canard that they administered secret justice. Anything which showed the proper working of the family justice system was, in his view, to be welcomed.

His Lordship re-affirmed that the Press and some parents' pressure groups needed to understand that the reasons fathers in particular failed sometimes to remain in contact with their children was not due to gender bias in the system but to their own conduct. Neither Re B or Re O could even remotely be described as secret justice and he had deliberately taken the unusual step of reserving judgment in the two applications so that, in considering the two cases in detail he could re-examine his own practice thoroughly. For the full news story see November [2006] Fam Law. For an article by Lord Justice Wall on transparency in family proceedings see [2006] Fam Law 747.