In re R (Family dispute: Evidence)

Thanks to Current Awareness for drawing my attention to this interesting report in The Times today, highlighting a key difference in the treatment of evidence between civil and family matters.

The case involved a father's residence application in which the mother raised serious allegations of domestic violence. At the fact-finding hearing the mother gave her evidence, after which a submission of no case to answer was made on behalf of the father, and accepted by the court. The mother's appeal was upheld by the Court of Appeal, which made clear that a no case to answer submission was not appropriate at a fact-finding hearing. The court’s duty to the child dictated that all of the evidence should be heard, including the father's evidence. Lord Justice Thorpe stated that: "The judge had risked derailing the whole future of the case based simply on his conclusion that the mother had lied." The obvious question is: would his conclusion have been any different if he had heard the father's evidence?

[Note that the Times report will only be available free for 21 days.]

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