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Court approves Sch 1 compromise agreement despite mother’s breach of terms

Father not permitted to renege on agreement

Mr Justice Keehan has approved a compromise agreement in respect of a mother's application under Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989 notwithstanding that she acted in breach of the agreement.

In TW v PL [2013] EWHC 3078, the court heard that the mother made an application under Schedule 1 for financial provision in respect of the parties' child, NW, who is nearly two years old.  Shortly before the final hearing was to take place the parties reached an agreement that the father would pay £1,600 per month for the maintenance of NW.  A draft order was produced by the solicitor on behalf of the father which was signed by the mother on 5 August.

After that date the mother gave an interview to a popular magazine in which she made reference to the father, PL, and to his approach towards NW. The father accordingly sought to withdraw his consent to the agreement, on the basis that the interview given by the mother to the magazine was in breach of various undertakings that the parties had agreed should be incorporated into the agreement between them.

Keehan J said:

"There is in my judgment no halfway house.  I know of no authority which entitles me to find that there is a concluded agreement, but then to impose on one or other of the parties different terms from those which have been incorporated within the agreement. Accordingly, I have to consider whether there are circumstances which vitiate that agreement and I take account of the decision in Edgar v Edgar that there must  be good and substantial grounds that there will be an injustice caused if parties were held to the agreement."

He continued:

"I am not satisfied that there are any vitiating circumstances which would lead to the father suffering any injustice if he were held to this agreement.  Accordingly, the father has no grounds for seeking to renege on the agreement concluded between the parties having had the benefit of solicitors and experts and advice."

Accordingly, Keehan J approved the agreement and made it a court order. The judgment can be read here.

Sarah Phipps of Queen Elizabeth Building (instructed by Jeffrey Green Russell) represented the applicant. Antonia Mee (of Burgess Mee) represented the respondent.