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Re N (children) [2019] EWCA Civ 903

Appeal by a father against the dismissal of his application to vary a s.91(14) order.

The litigation concerned a protracted private law dispute between parents regarding their 2 children which had been continuing for some 5 years.

At a hearing listed as a directions hearing that the father did not attend, although he filed a position statement, the judge heard evidence from the children's guardian and the mother and at the conclusion of the hearing, indicated that he was minded to make a final order including a s91 (14) order applying to both parents and lasting for 2 years.  The resulting order gave father liberty to apply to vary the s91(14) order within 4 weeks.

The father, who was in person, made an application to vary within the time limit but this application was listed almost 4 months after the hearing.  The judge was not provided with a bundle and the mother did not attend.  The father produced only 2 documents which related to psychotherapy the father had undergone.

The judge dismissed the application.  The father appealed both orders

HELD:  None of the fundamental requirements identified in Re T (a child) (suspension of contact) [2015] EWCA Civ 719  for the making of a s91(14) order were satisfied.  In the light of the irregularities in the way order was made, the summary dismissal of the father's application was also plainly wrong.  The 2 hearings taken together infringed father's right to a fair hearing.  The matter was remitted for further hearing

Summary by Martina van der Leij, barrister, Field Court Chambers

Read the full judgment of Re N (children) [2019] EWCA Civ 903 via BAILII