Tight deadlines for dealing with Family cases are beneficial, the Court of Appeal has said, after it upheld a challenge concerning the substantially delayed Judgement.

The case concerned care proceedings that started in Bournemouth in relation to 10 of 15 children born to a mother.  The Father in the proceedings was parent to the youngest 9 of the 10 children.  The Judge in the case handed down Judgement around 6 months after the final day of evidence at the end of a 7 day hearing.  The Father appealed and recited the failure by the Judge to properly consider evidence stating sustained and significant change established by the parents during the 6 months prior to his Judgement.

Section 32 of the Children Act 1989 requires Court dealing with Public Law Children Proceedings to draw up a time table with a view to disposing of the Application within 26 weeks from the day the Application was issued.  If the Judge requires more time to prepare a reserved Judgement he should make expressed provision for an extension of up to only 8 weeks to the time table for that purpose.  The Appeal Court Judge has described the delay in this case as plainly wholly unacceptable.  The Appeal Judges took the view that they should have obtained short updating evidence from the Local Authority, Parents and the Children’s Guardian on the welfare of the children after such a delay.  The Father’s appeal was allowed and the matter was sent back to the Family Court so that the necessary updating evidence could be filed and considered.

For further help and advice or if you are currently dealing with a Court of Appeal contact the Ringrose Law Family team in Boston, Lincoln, Grantham, Sleaford, Spalding and Newark or contact Donna on 01205 311511.

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