Family Law WeekBerkeley Lifford Hall Accountancy ServicesAlphabiolabsHousing Law Week

Cobb J gives guidance on out of hours and without notice hearings

Judge reiterates warning of wasted costs concerning inadequate bundles

In Local Authority 1 & Others v AF (Mother) & Others [2014] EWHC 2042 (Fam) Mr Justice Cobb has provided particular guidance to practitioners on the topics of (i) out of hours and without notice hearings and (ii) the preparation of bundles.

At an interim stage in the proceedings Cobb J had heard an urgent without notice application by a local authority as a consequence of the dramatic breakdown of a residential placement. The judge had required further investigation to be undertaken by the applicant to establish the position of each of the respondents before determining the application, and this was duly complied with. Counsel who acted at that hearing and made the application did not appear in the case subsequently, and at the final hearing there were important unanswered questions about how the parties' positions had come to be communicated. This was unsatisfactory. At paragraph [299], the Judge reiterated that:

"It is, in my judgment, not just important but essential that in a hearing of this nature in this kind of case, counsel or solicitor instructed should prepare a note of the hearing and circulate it to the respondents forthwith following the hearing."

The judge cited ruled 25.3 CPR 2010 in relation to counsel's duty to provide such a note, and reminded practitioners of the view of Munby J (as he then was) expressed in C v C (Without Notice Orders) [2005] EWHC 2741 (Fam).

The judge also criticised the condition of the (nine) bundles provided, the pagination of which "was, in parts, of impenetrable and wholly avoidable complexity" [303]. The judge cited the provisions of PD27A FPR 2010 (as amended) and expressed disappointment that "the warning about wasted costs was not of itself sufficient to ensure compliance" [305].

The judgment and the full summary of law and facts (from which this news item is derived), written by Marlene Cayoun of 1 Garden Court Chambers, is here.