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Reported Case

Duncan Lewis successfully represents mother in legal battle regarding the appointment of deaf intermediary throughout family proceedings (20 February 2024)

Date: 20/02/2024
Duncan Lewis, Reported Case Solicitors, Duncan Lewis successfully represents mother in legal battle regarding the appointment of deaf intermediary throughout family proceedings

Duncan Lewis Solicitors, a leading legal firm known for its unwavering commitment to justice, has successfully represented a deaf mother (M) in a significant legal matter concerning the imperative need for a deaf intermediary to assist M during hearings pertaining to the welfare of 2.5-year-old girl, X.

The case, West Northampton Council versus the applicant, KA (mother) and NH (father) and X (through her Children's Guardian), currently in its 127th week of proceedings, has attracted widespread attention due to its complex procedural history and the profound implications for the child's future. Originating with the Local Authority's application for a care and placement order, filed shortly after X's birth in July 2021, the prolonged legal delays have raised concerns about the impact on X's best interests.

Most recently, the case was brought before the Family Presider for the Midlands to address issues related to wasted costs and the appointment of a deaf intermediary for M to assist her understanding during the 5 day final hearing that had to be adjourned.

A hearing was due to take place on 6 November 2023 for 5 days. However, on the first day of the hearing the intermediary, Ms Z, did not attend. The M's solicitors, who had engaged Ms Z, tried to contact her but only received an out of office reply. No other deaf intermediaries were available to assist at such short notice – there being only two others within the UK.  As a result, the hearing was adjourned and relisted for five days commencing on January 22, 2024. At the hearing on 6-7 November 2023 HHJ Wicks gave consideration as to whether it was necessary and proportionate for M to be assisted by a deaf intermediary as well as qualified suitable deaf interpreters for the duration of the adjourned final hearing.

In her decision, Mrs Justice Lieven DBE asserted that the appointment of a deaf intermediary for M in this case is necessary for the entirety of the hearing. The M's communication issues here are profound. In such circumstances, an order was made for the deaf intermediary to attend throughout.

Despite the challenges posed by the case's lengthy timeline, the Court's decision underscores the necessity of ensuring effective communication and representation for M, who is profoundly deaf, throughout the legal process.

Read the full case summary on Baili here.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors

At Duncan Lewis, we understand the unique challenges faced by deaf parents in legal proceedings, particularly in scenarios where communication barriers may hinder their ability to fully participate. We pride ourselves on our expertise in effectively representing these vulnerable parties, ensuring that their voices are heard and their rights are protected throughout the legal process. With a deep understanding of the complexities involved, our dedicated team is committed to providing tailored support and advocacy for deaf parents, facilitating clear and accessible communication with professionals and within the court system.

For advice or assistance on a legal matter, contact us today via telephone at 0333772040

About the Instructing Solicitor

Situated in the Family and Childcare department, Rupinder Jagdev is an esteemed director based at our Birmingham office. Rupinder focuses primarily on navigating the complexities of both public and private law proceedings, which include handling care proceedings, injunctions, and child arrangements. She takes great pride in personally conducting the majority of her advocacy, diligently representing the interests of children through their guardians, parents, and other family members with compassion and skill.

Rupinder’s expertise and commitment to this field earned her recognition as a recommended lawyer in The Legal 500 directory and becoming a member of the Children Law Accreditation Scheme in July 2019. For advice or assistance on a Childcare matter, contact Rupinder via email at RupinderJ@duncanlewis.com or via telephone at 02072752561


Find full details of this case on Bailii’s website here.
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