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C (A Child) [2006] EWCA Civ 144

This was an application by a father for permission to appeal, with appeal to follow, an order for supervised contact on the grounds that the judge had not given the father a fair hearing. Permission was granted and the contact order was amended.

C (A Child) [2006] EWCA Civ 144

This was an application by a father for permission to appeal, with appeal to follow, an order for supervised contact on the grounds that the judge had not given the father a fair hearing. Permission was granted and the contact order was amended.

The grounds for appeal were that the judge had not given the father an opportunity to give oral evidence on a report from the family support worker who had been supervising contact. This report had raised the consideration that the father's contact sessions, which had been very positive, had not proved his ability to have unsupervised contact as they had taken place in a supported, unpressurised environment. The hearing, which was thought to be the final hearing, had been scheduled to last a day but was cut short by the judge partly because another four day case had been listed for her on the same day and counsel for the father was under pressure not to bring evidence concerning the contact report.

Wilson LJ found that, following Re B (Minors)(Contact) [1994] 2 FLR, trial judges in children cases have a wider discretion in the mode of conduct than in conventional civil jurisdiction and what might not be lawful in a civil trial could be lawful in the context of children cases. However, as this hearing had been listed as a final hearing, with a significant time estimate, then the judge should not have prevented the necessary enquiry into the issue. The order was amended to be an interim order with a further hearing before another circuit judge to hear the issue.

Read the full text of the judgment here