Saturday, 7 September 2013

Important Appeal - Father's Right to Family Life upheld

In a groundbreaking case, Lord Justice McFarlane upheld the father's appeal, citing that his and the child's right to family life had been failed by the lower court.

Of particular interest will be paragraphs 77 and 78.

Download the full judgment here.

77. Drawing matters together, whilst I do not conclude that the outcome ordered by the judge is, of itself, wrong and therefore to be set aside, I am sufficiently concerned about the process of these proceedings as a whole, which I have held has violated the Art 8 rights of both M and her father, and also by the deficits in the judge’s analysis which I have now identified, to conclude, in the words of CPR, r 52(11)(3), that the outcome is ‘unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity’. For the previous systemic failure to end in a hearing which itself was highly unsatisfactory and where the judge has failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough analysis, makes it almost inevitable that this court will consider that it has a duty to intervene with the aim of establishing an effective and full rehearing.

78. This decision is made with a heavy heart as I fully understand that the idea of reopening these matters before the court will be a profoundly unwelcome one for M. That it is necessary, for the reasons that I have given, I am clear, just as I am clear that, on this rare occasion, part of the responsibility for this turn of events rests with those of us who work in the Family Justice system. But sight must not be lost of the place where the ultimate responsibility for this situation plainly rests, which is with the parents and, in this case, with M’s mother in particular. It is she who has, on the judge’s clear and unchallenged findings, doggedly refused to allow M to  develop and maintain a relationship with her father without any good reason whatsoever for so doing; it is she, should she wish to do so, who could now unlock this intractable situation and permit her daughter to have some form of normality and balance in her relationship with her parents as she goes through her teenage years and beyond.