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High Court orders 50 year old to behave in parents’ home

President grants injunction under inherent jurisdiction

The Daily Telegraph reports that the High Court has made a "highly unusual" order protecting an elderly couple from their allegedly abusive son.

In the case of A Local Authority v DL, RL and ML [2010] EWHC 2675 (Fam) (soon to be published on Family Law Week),  Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the Family Division, ruled that he had jurisdiction to grant a local authority's application for a non-molestation injunction against DL, who is in his 50s.

The local authority wished to take steps to protect Mr and Mrs. L, 85 and 90 respectively, from DL, their son. The authority acknowledges that, on the information currently available to it, neither Mr nor Mrs L lacks the capacity to take proceedings on behalf of themselves or each other. It also recognises that Mrs L, in particular, wishes to preserve her relationship with DL and does not want any proceedings taken against him for fear that if steps are taken to remove DL from the property he might at worst commit suicide or that, at best, she might lose contact with him.

At the same time, the local authority took the view that it owes a duty to Mr and Mrs. L to protect them from DL's behaviour.

The authority had documented incidents going back to 2005 which, it said, included physical assaults, verbal threats, and DL controlling where his parents moved in the house or outside and who might visit them. There have also been, according to the authority, consistent reports that DL is seeking to coerce Mr L into transferring the ownership of the house into DL's name and that he has also placed considerable pressure on both his parents to have Mrs L moved into a care home against her wishes.

The authority had rejected using the criminal law, applying to the Court of Protection, seeking an anti-social behaviour order or applying under the Housing Act. The President agreed that none of those remedies was currently appropriate.

Instead the authority applied to the court for an order, to be made under its inherent jurisdiction to protect vulnerable adults and under section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972, restraining DL from acting unlawfully.

Sir Nicholas Wall determined that the facts warranted an injunction under the inherent jurisdiction and under LGA 1972 section 222 and made an order in the terms sought.