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Zahra Pabani
Zahra Pabani
Partner - Family Law
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WARDSHIP/COSTS: S v S [2008] EWHC 2288 (Fam)
Date:17 OCT 2008

(Family Division; Munby J; 6 October 2008)

There was no excuse for people making inappropriate use of wardship; there seemed to be dauntless enthusiasm by counsel to persist in misconceived attempts to persuade judges in the Family Division to deal with matters that, if they were justiciable at all, were matters for the Administrative Court. It was clear that wardship was not to be used in such a way as to prevent the exercise of statutory powers. Because wardship acted as a brake upon the Secretary of State's power to remove a child from the jurisdiction, the Family Division must exercise its wardship powers with great care and circumspection and ensure that wardship was not used for an impermissible purpose. It was outside the lawful exercise of any power of a judge in the Family Division to make an order directing the Secretary of State to release the dependant of a failed asylum seeker from administrative detention. An attempt to put pressure upon the Secretary of State by making a declaration concerning the child's health was a classic example of an abuse of the wardship process. An abusive application, in the sense of being deliberately contrived as a means of obstructing the Secretary of State, would in future be likely to be met with an order for costs.