(Court of Appeal; Sir Mark Potter, Neuberger and Wilson LJJ; 16 November 2006)
The mother had repeatedly failed to comply with court orders, and to attend court hearings. Following personal service of a contact order to which, on the recommendation of CAFCASS, a penal notice had been attached, the mother breached the order by failing to produce the child for contact with the father over 4 successive weekends. The father applied for substituted service in respect of a notice to the mother to show good cause why an order for the mother's committal to prison should not be made. On the morning of the hearing the mother went to the office of her solicitors to inform them that she would not be attending court because she had no-one to look after the child. The judge refused to adjourn the hearing, referring to the history of the case, and committed the mother to prison for 7 days, suspended provided the mother complied thereafter with the contact arrangements. The mother appealed on the basis that insufficient reasons had been given for the decision.
Consideration of the case history showed that the judge had been entirely justified in making the committal order. The judge should have given clear reasons for his decision, however there had been no real uncertainty as to the reasons for the decision made and the appeal would be dismissed.