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Uddin (a child), Re [2005] EWCA Civ 52

Final determination of an appeal can only be reopened in most exceptional circumstances.

DIGEST - Uddin (a child), Re [2005] EWCA Civ 52

Court of Appeal: Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P, Thorpe and Laws LJJ (24 February 2005)

Final determination of an appeal can only be reopened in most exceptional circumstances.

The Court of Appeal had previously dismissed an appeal against a judgment of Bracewell J (see [2004] EWCA Civ 567); this further appeal was made by virtue of the principles in Taylor v Lawrence [2002] EWCA Civ 90 and the provisions of CPR 1998, r 52.17. Rule 52.17 provides that "the Court of Appeal or the High Court will not reopen a final determination of any appeal unless: (a) it is necessary to do so in order to avoid real injustice; (b) the circumstances are exceptional and make it appropriate to reopen the appeal; and (c) there is no alternative effective remedy".

The court drew attention to the pressing public interest in confining the circumstances in which a court would reopen an appeal that had already been finally determined to cases of the most exceptional kind, in all areas of the law including family law.

It considered that the Taylor v Lawrence jurisdiction could only be properly invoked where it was demonstrated that the integrity of the earlier litigation process, whether at trial or at the first appeal, had been critically undermined. That test would generally be met where the process had been corrupted. It may be met where it was shown that a wrong result was earlier arrived at. It would not be met where it was shown only that a wrong result may have been arrived at.

The court distinguished the situation where, on a first appeal, new evidence might be admitted according to the less demanding requirements set out in Ladd v Marshall.

Held, dismissing the appeal, that the issues raised on the further application came nowhere close to the principles laid down in Taylor v Lawrence; and no significant injustice had occurred. There were therefore no grounds on which permission to reopen the appeal should be granted. The application to reopen the earlier appeal process pursuant to r 52.17 was misconceived in principle.

Read the full text of the judgment