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January Family Law Case Reports: Highlights

Date:17 JAN 2014
Law Reporter

Samantha Bangham - Family Law Reporter Happy New Year! What better way to ease into the new working year than by catching up on all the latest news, cases and legislation in your January edition of Family Law. T

he case of Re W (Adoption Order: Leave to Oppose); Re H (Adoption Order: Application for Permission for Leave to Oppose) [2013] EWHC Civ 1177, [2014] FLR forthcoming, is an important judgment from the President applying the principles in Re B (Care Proceedings: Appeal) [2013] UKSC 33, [2013] 2 FLR 1075. Both of these joined cases, as the names suggest, involved appeals from adoption orders. The judgment was given shortly after Re B-S (Adoption: Application of s 47(5)) [2013] EWCA Civ 1146, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming, and noted that appropriate allowance had to be made for judgments, such as the first instance decision here, given before that date. In those circumstances the emphasis had to be on substance rather than form and the judge had to have the two-stage process in mind: whether there had been a change of circumstances; and, what the ultimate prospects of success were.

Moving on to care proceedings with an international theme, Re B (Care Order: Jurisdiction) [2013] EWCA Civ 1434, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming, concerned a mother who had long-standing mental health problems. The local authority intended to initiate care proceedings but before action could be taken the mother fled to Sweden where she gave birth. Swedish authorities were happy with the mother’ care of the child but when the mother visited the UK her behaviour necessitated her detention and care proceedings in relation to the child. When an Art 15, BIIR transfer request was denied by the Swedish court the English judge contacted the Swedish liaison judge through the European Judicial Network and asked whether the Swedish court had jurisdiction. The Swedish judge answered that it was highly unlikely that the Swedish court had jurisdiction. On that basis the judge concluded that the English court had jurisdiction to hear the care proceedings. The mother appealed. As the case comment illustrates, the questions that had been asked via the judicial network fell well beyond what could properly be asked and bordered on obtaining an authoritative determination in breach of Art 6 of the European Convention. The intention of the international network of judges is to achieve an exchange of information and co-operation on the practicalities of a case, not to give determinative rulings. The appeal was allowed and the determination on jurisdiction set aside.

Another interesting case, commented upon in this issue of Family Law, is Re A (Termination of Parental Responsibility) [2013] EWHC 2963 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming. This case provides an illustration of the extreme circumstances necessary before the court will contemplate extinguishing a parent’s responsibility. In this case the father was imprisoned for a prolonged and vicious assault on the mother which was witnessed by the 2-year-old child. The father had a number of criminal convictions and had never played a part in the child’s life. The mother was left suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had to move to a secret address for her and her child’s safety. The police evidence was that if the father found the mother in the future she would face a real risk to her life. The mother was granted an order revoking the father’s parental responsibility, permission to change the forename and family name of the child, and a residence order. The judge found that to leave the father with parental responsibility would lead to profound instability for the mother and a consequent deterioration of arrangements for the child. The welfare balance tipped firmly in favour of granting the orders sought.

F v F (MMR Vaccine) [2013] EWHC 2683 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming, involved private law children proceedings in which the father sought an order requiring his two daughters, aged 15 and 11 to be inoculated with the MMR vaccine. The older daughter had received one dose as a child but following the controversy surrounding the vaccine she did not receive a booster. The younger child had never been vaccinated. The father had altered his stance and now sought their immunisation while the mother remained firmly against it. The children both objected. The older daughter was against it because she was a vegan and the vaccine contained animal protein. The judge granted a declaration that it was in the best interests of both daughters that they received the vaccine. The judge found that their views had been influenced by a number of factors and that they no longer had a balanced level of understanding. The medical evidence was that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed any possible risks.

 In addition to these highlights, this month’s issue of Family Law also contains case commentary on: O v O (Abduction: Return to Third Country) [2013] EWHC 2970 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Re C (Transcripts: Permission to Appeal) [2013] EWCA Civ 1158, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Ramnarine v Ramnarine [2013] UKPC 27, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Re J and MM (Children: Placement of Children Outside Family) [2013] EWHC 1820 (Fam); Re C (Appeal from Care and Placement Orders) [2013] EWCA Civ 1257, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Re MM (Long-Term Fostering: Placement with Family Members: Wishes and Feelings) [2013] EWHC 2697 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Re S (Care Order: Appeal) [2013] EWCA Civ 1073, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; K v D (Committal: Application to Strike Out) [2013] EWHC 796 (Fam); Re G (Intractable Contact Dispute); Button v Salama [2013] EWHC 2474 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Button v Salama (No 2) [2013] EWHC 2972 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Re G (Contact Proceedings: Costs) [2013] EWCA Civ 1017, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Tufali v Ruiz [2013] EWHC 1829 (Fam); Lancashire County Council v R [2013] EWHC 3064 (Fam); Povse v Austria (Application No 3890/11), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; EA v AP (Schedule 1 Proceedings: Jurisdiction: Stay) [2013] EWHC 2344 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Re C (Parental Order) [2013] EWHC 2413 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; Smith v Bottomley [2013] EWCA Civ 953, [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; ET v TZ (Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Residence Order) [2013] EWHC 2621 (Fam), [2014] 1 FLR forthcoming; H v B (Wardship: Jurisdiction) [2013] EWHC 2950 (Fam).

January’s issue of Family Law should already be on your desks. If you don’t already subscribe you can do so here, for either the print or online version, or alternatively sign up for a free online trial. In addition to the case reports, Family Law also covers the latest news of legislative change, invaluable articles and news items written and compiled by experts for the practising family law professional.

Samantha Bangham is the Law Reporter for Family Law Reports. Judgments can be submitted for consideration via: editor@familylaw.co.uk.

She can be contacted on Twitter: @ladybangham, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

The content of this article should not be considered as legal advice.