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29 JAN 2013

‘We are asked in this case to reconcile the irreconcilable’: Re A

Roger McCarthy QC

Coram Chambers:

This article describes the recent Supreme Court decision of Re A (Sexual Abuse: Disclosure) [2012] UKSC 60, [2013] 1 FLR (forthcoming) and includes a number of comments on the judgment. The Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal decision to order disclosure of confidential allegations which had been made by a vulnerable third party against a parent who was a party to a contact dispute. The case included a discussion of Arts 3, 6 and 8 of the European Convention and of the expectation that material relevant to children cases should be disclosed. The irreconcilable conflict was between the rights of the third party and the rights of the parties to the proceedings. The Court described the approach to be taken in assessing the Art 3 compliance of actions which followed on from court orders. The Court rejected the option of a closed material procedure. The Court described a step by step procedure which could be followed to provide procedural safeguards for witnesses. The article ends with the authors' explanation of the position of judges who have read material which is not to be disclosed to all the parties.

The full version of this article appears in the February 2013 issue of Family Law.

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