The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal in the High Court case: X (A Child) (Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order: Restrictions on Travel)  EWHC 2898 (Fam).
The case - the first ever FGM case to be heard in the Court of Appeal - in which a 16 year travel ban was imposed on a child ‘X’, due to concerns that X was at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), will be remitted for a full re-hearing of all relevant issues, to a Judge of the Family Division.
The girl was born in 2016 to a white English mother and an Egyptian father. The father, who currently resides in Egypt, has been unable to join the mother and X in the UK because of issues with acquiring a visa.
X’s mother expressed concern that her daughter may be at risk of FGM to a health visitor who made a referral to the Local Authority (LA).
The LA issued proceedings and the matter was heard in the High Court before Ms Justice Russell who made an FGM Protection Order (FGMPO) on 15 November 2017, prohibiting X’s parents from ‘removing, seeking to remove, or instructing or encouraging any other person to remove the child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales’ until 22 August 2032.
The case was unique as the Judge made the order knowing that there was a chance the father would not see his child as he remained ineligible to apply for a visa. This decision was challenged by the mother as appellant, who received public funding to pursue the appeal. However, shortly before the appeal hearing, mother’s legal aid was withdrawn, following negative advice as to the prospects of success from her junior and leading counsel. As a consequence of having no funding, mother withdrew her appeal but the court allowed the father to be substituted in her place thus allowing the appeal to continue. Duncan Lewis remained committed to representing the mother pro bono without funding and instructed Counsel Sarah Forster to represent her at the appeal hearing.
Representing the mother, Family Director at Duncan Lewis Solicitors, Ravi Kaur Mahey, said;
"The making of the FGM order was never an issue for the mother in this case and this was not challenged in the appeal. She is firmly opposed to FGM and remains committed to ensuring her daughter is protected from harm. The issue here was the blanket travel ban the court imposed, preventing the child from travelling until 2032. This denied the child and her parents the chance of any family life together as a unit. It is clear that the High Court Judge did not explore in detail all other options which would allow family reunification, even if for short periods of time.
"The mother is very pleased that the court will now look at the whole case afresh and consider the competing effects of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"From the onset of this case, it was very clear to me that the travel ban was wrong and it is right and proper that this matter is re-heard"
Ravi Kaur Mahey, Child Care Director at Duncan Lewis was the lead solicitor in this case. Ravi has specialist experience in child abduction, FGM and public law cases. She has held advocacy for children and adults in the County and High Court and she has been a member of The Law Society Children Panel since 2011.
For expert advice, contact Ravi on 020 3114 1102 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duncan Lewis Family & Child Care Department
Duncan Lewis family and child care team continues to be recognised by Legal 500 for our large team which ‘covers a broad range of family cases and excels in children’s cases’. The 2017 edition applauded Duncan Lewis for its expertise in representing vulnerable clients under legal aid and we have been recognised for our niche experience in Islamic divorce.
The team has extensive expertise representing vulnerable clients under legal aid, supporting families in care proceedings. Guardians appoint us to represent children in culturally complex care cases given our diverse ethnic workforce and experience dealing with vulnerable clients in physical and emotional abuse, drug or alcohol misuse, neglect, factitious illness, rare illness and non-accidental injury matters.
For expert advice on any family and child care matter, please call 0333 772 0409.