West Law Report

Duty to consider other issues

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on December 1, 2008

From The Times
November 26, 2008
Duty to consider other issues

Family Division

Published November 26, 2008

In re M (a Child) (Family proceedings: Immigration) and In re N (a Child) (Family proceedings: Immigration)

Practitioners in family proceedings representing a parent who was also involved in some other relevant matter such as an immigration or housing dispute or criminal case had an ongoing duty to remain au courant with those other issues.

Mr Justice Munby so stated in the Family Division, in a reserved judgment, on October 6, 2008. In each case the hearing had proved abortive because of the failure of those acting for the parent properly to ascertain what was going on in the parallel immigration proceedings. The result was delay, waste of public money and the prejudice of other litigants who were case ready. Leave was given to report the part of the judgment that related to the procedure to be followed in such cases.

HIS LORDSHIP said that a court considering whether to make a residence order was bound to have regard to how capable each parent was of meeting the child’s needs and required the most up-to-date information.

Practitioners had a duty to find out from professionals acting for their client in any other relevant matter the stage those matters had reached.

It was preferable to obtain copies of correspondence and documents to minimise uncertainty and misunderstanding.

If practitioners were finding it difficult to obtain relevant information, the court should be approached for a peremptory order or an order pursuant to the President’s Protocol: Communicating with the Home Office([2004] 1 FLR 638), supplemented by Guidance from the President’s Office: Communicating with the Home Office (January 2006) requesting the relevant information.


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