The case involved serious allegations of controlling and coercive behavior by the father towards the mother. The judge had previously rejected the father's request for a Child Arrangement Order, and he appealed. However, the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal.
The Family Team, acting on behalf of the mother, sought an order for no indirect contact from the father (F) and a prohibited steps order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.
On 24th March 2021, the father (F) applied for a Child Arrangements Order to have contact with both of his children. He also sought a Specific Issue Order to change the youngest child's surname, despite never having met the child.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors made applications for permission to disclose the judgment and case papers to the police. They also sought, in case no order for contact was made, to remove F's Parental Responsibility. Additionally, Duncan Lewis wanted to disclose the court order to F's immigration lawyers. It's worth noting that the parties here are married, so F is automatically granted parental responsibility for his children under Section 2(1) of the Children Act 1989.
F made a further application for a Specific Issue Order, trying to prevent the police from accessing any statements or admissions he made during the proceedings.
Mr Justice Hayden rejected F's application, citing the previous judgment in F v M  EWHC 3133, which highlighted the risks F posed to women not only emotionally and physically but also in terms of their sexual safety.
On 5th January 2022, F applied for permission to appeal the refusal of his Specific Issue Order to the Court of Appeal. He also requested to adjourn the final hearing pending the outcome of this appeal. Mr Justice Hayden reluctantly agreed to adjourn the final hearing.
The Court of Appeal granted permission for the appeal, and during the appeal hearing on 31st March 2022, Peter Jackson LJ invited the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to participate in the proceedings as an intervener.
On 21st April 2022, the Court of Appeal dismissed F's appeal. Lord Burnett of Maldon CJ concluded that the approach to disclosure from the family proceedings found in Re EC (Disclosure of Material) provided appropriate protections and ensured fairness in the family law proceedings.
Permission to appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected initially, but F renewed the application before the Supreme Court. He also requested an adjournment of the directions hearing, awaiting the Supreme Court's decision. Mr Justice Hayden granted the adjournment, but with no communication from either party, the case was eventually scheduled for a final hearing on December 5th, 2022.
The Final Judgment
At the final hearing, F decided not to oppose the order for 'no indirect contact' proposed by Duncan Lewis Solicitors. Mr Justice Hayden emphasized that, in rare cases, a parent who has nothing positive to offer a child is better for the child to be without. He stated, "It is impossible to identify any benefit that indirect contact might bring to these children in this case. By contrast, it is easy to see how it might be unsettling and potentially harmful to the security of both the mother and children."
About the Representing Solicitor
Michelle Lubelle is a solicitor in the Family and Child Care department, led by Director Adeeba Naseem. Michelle is an expert in public child care law and frequently assist vulnerable clients. She has been described as "a credit to Duncan Lewis ”, and is a Recommended Lawyer in the 2023 edition of The Legal 500 for her Family work throughout London and across the South East in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Middlesex.
The Family and Child Care department is ranked and recognised by The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners for family and matrimonial work, providing confidential advice with effective representation. Our family team includes solicitors who have achieved the Law Society’s Children Law and Family Law Advanced accreditations providing advocacy in all court proceedings, ensuring our clients receive a consistent and professional service as well as a high degree of continuity.
For advice on Family and Childcare matters, contact Adeeba via email at AdeebaN@duncanlewis.com or via telephone on 07920077039.