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Max Lewis - The Child as Witness in Ancillary Relief Cases

Date:6 OCT 2008

Max Lewis, Barrister, 29 Bedford Row.
In a recent, relatively low-asset county court ancillary relief final hearing, a husband and wife each alleged that the other had removed a box from the matrimonial home containing possibly £50,000 of jewellery. The parties' 12-year-old daughter (who lived with husband and had no contact with the wife) alleged by affidavit that, 2 years earlier, she had seen her mother removing the box. The husband brought the child to court and sought permission to call her as a witness. The child did not need compelling or summonsing and was present and eager to give live evidence. The district judge granted permission.

Permission to call family members as witnesses within ancillary relief will often sensibly be refused because that evidence is not necessary for fairly disposing of the issues that need resolving within a particular set of facts (see, for example, Bookbinder v Tebbit (No 2) [1992] 1 WLR 217, at 223). There will, however, be extremely rare occasions where the evidence of a child will be necessary, and accordingly there is very little guidance as to how to approach the matter within ancillary relief.

For the full article, see September [2008] Family Law journal.

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