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Children Giving Oral Evidence in Family Proceedings: Re W

Date:26 APR 2010

SUSANNAH JOHNSON and HARINDER KAUR, Barristers, 7 Bedford Row

In a recent decision of the Supreme Court Re W (Abuse: Oral Evidence) [2010] UKSC 12, [2010] 2 FLR (forthcoming) the Court was asked to reverse a decision by the Court of Appeal, dismissing a father's appeal against a decision by a county court judge to refuse his application for his 14-year-old step-daughter to give live evidence in care proceedings. The father denied the girl's accusations that he had sexually abused her. In allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court found that the then current presumption against children giving evidence in family proceedings could not be reconciled with the approach of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which aims to strike a fair balance between competing convention rights. Guidance was provided on the principles to be applied when a court was faced with the decision about whether or not a child should give evidence in family proceedings.

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