(Court of Appeal, Longmore, Jackson and King LJJ, 10 April 2017)
Enforcement – Contempt – Appeal – Committal overturned – Application for damages and a declaration
The father’s appeal from a refusal to award damages and make a declaration was allowed.
During the course of family proceedings the father was committed to prison for contempt. That decision was overturned on appeal and the father applied under Part 19 of the FPR for damages and a declaration by the Lord Chancellor in respect of his unlawful imprisonment.
The Lord Chancellor resisted the application and maintained that the errors made by the judge did not amount to a gross and obvious irregularity. At first instance the father was unsuccessful and the judge noted that a very high threshold was required. The father appealed.The appeal was allowed. In this instance, when looked at cumulatively the errors had amounted to gross and obvious irregularity. The Lord Chancellor could not justify the father’s detention under Art 5(1)(a) or (b) of the European Convention.