(Court of Appeal; Ward, Waller and Stanley Burnton LJJ; 20 August 2009)
In the course of contact proceedings the mother made allegations of physical abuse by the father. At the fact-finding hearing the judge found the allegations proved; without hearing argument as to what contact, if any, should be allowed in light of these findings, the judge went on to state that the father's contact application was almost bound to fail.
The father's appeal was allowed. The judge should not have expressed a view on the issue of contact in the absence of any argument as to what contact, even interim contact, should be permitted. The case was to be remitted to the county court for the issue of contact to be decided by a different judge, on the basis of the established findings of fact, but taking no account of the associated comments on contact.