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Six good reasons why judges should meet with children in appropriate cases

Date:13 SEP 2016
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Vince Pescod, Senior Lecturer, University of Huddersfield

Amy Clowrey, Solicitor, Switalskis Solicitors

Since the United Kingdom signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989 the law surrounding the rights of children has been continually developing.

After the Guidelines for judges meeting children who are subject to family proceedings [2010] 2 FLR 1872 were introduced and the decision in Re KP (Abduction: Child’s Objections) [2014] EWCA Civ 554, [2014] 2 FLR 660, confusion and controversy has surrounded the topic, resulting in the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group (CVWWG) being set up to review how children’s evidence is heard in the family courts.

The research of CVWWG has resulted in a recommendation that revised Practice Directions should be introduced, including Practice Direction 3C which will provide further guidance on judges meeting with children.

Lady Hale recently urged reform in this area identifying six benefits for judges meeting with children within her article, ‘Listening to children: are we nearly there yet?’ [2016] Family Law 320. In light of the historical and current practices both in the UK, and Germany, and the obligations under the UNCRC, the article recommends that judges, having had relevant training, should meet with children to obtain evidence in limited but appropriate circumstances. 

The full version of this article appears in the September 2016 issue of Family Law. 

Online subscribers can access the article here

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