Changes to S.91(14) or barring orders to protect victims of domestic abuse

There are times when a parent will use further children act proceedings to further harm either the other parent or child. The court currently has the ability to prevent further applications to court without the court granting permission. This is a S.91(14) order, commonly referred to as a “barring order”.

These orders are rarely made due to the draconian nature, however there have been recent reforms to ensure these orders are made when it is appropriate to do so, including to stop perpetrators of domestic abuse using the court process as a way to continue to control their ex-partner.


In May 2019 the Government instructed a panel of experts to review the family court process to see how it could be improved. One of the recommendations was that S.91(14) orders were not being used sufficiently to protect victims of domestic abuse and their children. It was determined that clarification was needed. This has been provided by S91A of the Children Act 1989.

Lord Wolfson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice commented:-

“By clarifying the law on the use of section 91(14) ‘barring orders’ in the family courts, we will be protecting more victims from being repeatedly dragged back to court by their abusive ex-partners.”

How does S.91A achieve this?

S.91A clarifies that a S.91(14) order can be made if the court is satisfied the making of a further application in relation to the children would put any person named in the application, the subject child (or children) or another individual at risk of harm.

It goes on to clarify that a S.91(14) order can be made by the court:

  • On an application by the relevant individual
  • By or on behalf of the child concerned
  • By any other person who is a party in the proceedings
  • By the court’s own motion.

This means even if a formal application has not been made the court needs to consider if it is required to protect the child or another individual.

What does a S.91(14) order mean?

This order means that the person who is barred from making an application would have to seek permission from the court to make any application relating to the child or children.

S.91A clarifies the court must consider whether there has been any change of circumstances since the S.91(14) order was made. There needs to be a material change in the circumstances that led to the application being made for the court to grant permission.

The court will also have to consider what harm there would be to the child or children and/or the victim  of domestic abuse if permission is granted.

It is hoped these changes will protect many more victims of domestic abuse from being taken back to court unless there is a good reason.

If you require further advice please contact Ringrose Law Children Department on 01522 561020 to speak to a member of our friendly team.

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