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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

21 FEB 2006

Law, Discretion and Fact: Appeals in the Family Jurisdiction

David Burrows, Solicitor and Advocate. The disposal by Baroness Hale of Richmond of an appeal from the Court of Appeal, in Re J (Child Returned Abroad: Convention Rights) [2005] UKHL 40, [2005] 2 FLR 802 illuminates perfectly the subject of appeals and discretionary jurisdiction, subjects overlooked at their peril by all lawyers. The case concerned the summary return of a child to Saudi Arabia.

The Court of Appeal allowed the father's appeal on the ground that the judge had elevated his concern at the father's allegation above a level that the evidence justified. But, said Baroness Hale of Richmond (with whom the other four lords unanimously agreed), the judge's findings related to:

credibility and primary fact with which, for all the reasons explained by Lord Hoffman in [Piglowska v Piglowski [1999] 2 FLR 763, at 784], an appeal court is not entitled to interfere [and] once a judge has made such a finding, it becomes a factor to be weighed in the balance in the exercise of his discretion" (at paras [9] and [10]).

The author looks at other relevant cases regarding appeals. See March [2006] Fam Law 225 for the full article.

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