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Family Law

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27 MAR 2007

ABDUCTION: Re F (Abduction: Joinder of Child as Party) [2007] EWCA Civ 393

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Smith LJJ and Munby J; 27 March 2007)

In abduction proceedings an application was made for intervener status for the child.

There was a long line of authority emphasising how exceptional it was to grant a child permission to intervene; party status had been granted only in cases in which there had been some element of state intervention within the affairs of the family. Although the House of Lords, in Re D (Abduction: Rights of Custody) [2006] UKHL 51, had disapproved the suggestion made by the Court of Appeal in Re H (Abduction) [2007] 1 FLR 242 that the bar for allowing separate representation should be raised rather than lowered, the House of Lords judgment had not gone on to lower the bar, merely left it where it was. There were no exceptional circumstances in the instant case to justify granting the child party status; if the application were granted there would be serious consequences for the future conduct of proceedings, risking the magnification of representation in almost every case, complicating the processes of trial in what was essentially a summary process, and introducing significant delay. It was an obligation, and of great importance, to hear the voice of the child, and to have proper respect for the child's rights, but that could be achieved without joining the child as a party to the proceedings.

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