Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Review: The first of the many

Three cases to mention today:

According to Andrew Pack over at suesspiciousminds, the unassuming little judgment in Re A, B and C (Children) [2014] EW Misc 2 (CC) is "the first judgment to be published and made available online despite not having any significance or importance in and of itself". By that, I assume he means the first to be published in accordance with the President's practice guidance on transparency that wouldn't have been published previously. I have to agree that it is not the most exciting of judgments, and is unlikely to make the legal textbooks.

Mrs Justice King
A rather more interesting judgment published today was in the case SA v BN [2013] EWHC 4417 (Fam). This was a father's application for contact and parental responsibility in respect of his three year old daughter. Nothing unusual about that, you might think. Well, no, except that the mother claimed that the child had died in a car crash in the Congo. It fell to Mrs Justice King to decide whether this was true, or whether it was part of some elaborate fa├žade designed by the mother and her father to thwart contact. Mrs Justice King decided it was the latter. A case that demonstrates that you should never believe you have seen it all - you haven't.

Lastly, I come to RS v SS [2013] EWHC B33 (Fam), decided on the 23rd of December (note the date). This was a father's application for a transfer of residence of his two children, supported by the Guardian on behalf of the children, and strongly opposed by the mother. Her Honour Judge Harris ordered a transfer of residence. Now, these days I don't usually read Christopher Booker in The Telegraph, but it was this case that led to one of his recent lurid headlines: Children pulled from their mother on Christmas Day. Mr Booker firmly placed the blame for this appalling turn of events at the door of Judge Harris. However, the postscript to her judgment clearly indicates otherwise:
"The hearing concluded late on 23rd December 2013 which was far from ideal but unavoidable. I ordered that the mother take the boys to the paternal grandparents by 2pm on 24th December. She refused to comply with the court order. Late afternoon on 24th December the father made an urgent application to Cobb J by telephone for a collection order. He had a note of this judgment. The application had the support of the Guardian. The police failed in a timely way to assist the Tipstaff to enforce the order. The result was that the paternal grandparents spent the whole night of 24th December at the police station and the collection order was not enforced until early Christmas morning. This too was unfortunate and unavoidable. The mother brought this situation on the boys."
A case in point for the publication of judgments?

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