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Judgment in form of letter to 14-year-old boy published

Mr Justice Peter Jackson’s judgment published with approval of boy

A judgment by Mr Peter Justice Jackson featuring a letter to the young person who was the subject of the proceedings has been published.

The judgment in Re A (Letter to a Young Person) [2017] EWFC 48, apart from the first four introductory paragraphs, comprises a letter sent to a 14-year-old boy, referred to in the judgment by the fictitious name of Sam, who was the subject of the proceedings to determine, amongst other matters, whether he should be permitted to move to Scandinavia with his father and, if not, what the contact arrangements should be henceforth. The boy wished to go. His mother objected to the proposed move. In the event the judge refused permission for the removal from the jurisdiction.

Sam gave evidence in the proceedings and then left for a school trip. At the end of the hearing, Mr Justice Peter Jackson gave his decision in the form of a letter to Sam, which he read to the parents and gave to Sam's solicitor to give to him and to discuss with him when he returned from his trip. Peter Jackson J notes that Sam received the decision with apparent equanimity.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson asked the parties for their views about whether the letter, amended to protect their identities, should be published. The response from Sam himself, from his mother and stepfather, and from the Cafcass officer involved, was that it should be published. In contrast, the father was vehemently opposed to any publication; however, he offered no reasons for his opposition.

In 2016 Sir Peter was praised for using simple phrases in the judgment in Lancashire County Council v M and Others [2016] EWFC 9 which was 'as short as possible' in the hope that the mother and the older children could 'follow it'. The judgment reproduced an emoji which featured as a point of evidence.

For the judgment in Re A (Letter to a Young Person), click here