W(Minors), Re [2016] EWHC 2226(Fam) (10 August 2016)

Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2017

This case related to Private Law Proceedings in relation to Children and Domestic Abuse.  Proceedings were commenced by the Father in the High Court in relation to his Child and Step-Child.  He sought a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the children’s removal from the jurisdiction, a Location Order in relation to their whereabouts and a request to the Russian Embassy and the British Passport Office that no further passports be issued.  He also sought leave to apply for these orders in relation to his Step-Child, for whom he did not have Parental Responsibility.

The children were located and the Applicant subsequently applied to the Family Court for a Child Arrangement Order in relation to contact with them.

Meanwhile, the Mother had issued an application for a Non-Molestation Order against the Father.  This application was initially heard on an Ex Parte basis and a Non-Molestation Order was made for a period of 1 year.  It was also ordered that the matter would be considered at a further hearing on a date to be fixed at the request of the Father.

Mr Justice Mostyn judged that the Non-Molestation Order was in clear violation of the President’s Practice Guidance “Family Court – Duration of Ex Parte (Without Notice) Orders” (13 October 2014).  The violation related to the duration of the order which at 1 year was in excess of the 14 days specified in the guidance.  A further violation was the lack of a specified return date for the reconsideration of the order.  This offended a fundamental principle of natural justice that judicial decisions should be made after having heard both sides.   It was therefore ordered that the application for a Non-Molestation Order be transferred to be heard alongside the Child Arrangement Order application and this provided the fundamental right of a litigant, the Father, to be heard in a case which concerned him.

The full judgment can be read here.

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