A (A CHILD): S.91(14) order not incompatible with supervised contact

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Is a s.91(14) barring order
incompatible with an order for supervised contact? That, in my simplified paraphrase, was the question put before the Court of Appeal in A (A CHILD) (supervised contact) (s91(14) Children Act 1989 orders).

The case concerned a mother's appeal against an order that the child should live with her father, that the mother should have supervised contact, and that neither party should make any further application for a period of 2 years without the permission of the court.

For the purposes of this post I do not need to go into the details of the background or evidence: I am only concerned here with the bare question set out above.

Well, the actual question put by the mother was as follows: Did the making of an order under s,91(14) coupled with a supervised contact order place an impermissible fetter on movement towards unsupervised contact, and to the development of a more natural relationship between mother and child?

One can see the logic in the question, but Lady Justice King, giving the leading judgment of the Court of Appeal, was not persuaded. She concluded:

"In my judgment the submission ... that the making of the s91(14) order in addition to an order for supervised contact is wrong in principle, is without merit. It goes without saying that in the same way that leave to make an application following the making of a s91(14) order cannot be conditional, equally s91(14) cannot be used as some sort of fetter designed to prevent supervised contact progressing to unsupervised contact for the duration of the order.

"Every case must turn on its own unique facts but what has to be borne in mind is that whilst a court can make both a supervision order and an order under s91(14) in any individual case, each has to be considered separately on their merits; that is not however to say that, as here, the same facts and features of a case may not lead a judge to order both supervision of contact and a s91(14) order.

"The orders made by this judge far from acting as a fetter on the establishment of a more natural relationship, facilitate contact in circumstances where absent supervision, [the child's] welfare would have necessitated indirect contact only."

Accordingly, the mother's appeal was dismissed.