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CONTACT/FAMILY PROCEEDING: Re S (Permission to Seek Relief); Re E (Permission to Seek Relief) [2006] EWCA Civ 1190

Date:18 AUG 2006

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Wall LJJ; 18 August 2006) [2006] The Times September 13

It was not permissible to attach conditions to a s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 (the 1989 Act) order, beyond stating how long the order was to last and identifying the type of relief to which it applied. While it was permitted by the 1989 Act, and might well be appropriate for the court to impose a particular course of treatment on a party as a condition of making a contact order under s 8 of the 1989 Act, it was impermissible to impose conditions on a s 91(14) order and, in particular, impermissible to require that a party undergo treatment as a pre-condition of making an application for permission to apply. While a s 91(14) order could properly be made without limit of time or be expressed to last until a child was 16 years old, such an order would be the exception rather than the rule, and the reasons for making any such order must be fully and carefully set out. If the need for a s 91(14) order became apparent only during the course of a hearing, or at relatively short notice, the court had to ensure, if necessary by a short adjournment, that the person on the receiving end of the order, particularly if a litigant in person, had a full opportunity to consider the making of such an order, and to voice objections. However, a greater degree of flexibility was permissible when considering whether a resident parent needed to be served in the first instance with an application for permission to apply. In certain sensitive circumstances, it was open to the judge when making a s 91(14) order to direct that any application for permission to apply during its operation should not, in the first instance, be served on the respondent to it, but should be considered by the judge on paper.