For a subject of such importance and of whose continuing vitality and relevance we are constantly reminded, it is surprising that so little has been written about wardship and the inherent jurisdiction. When, in 1979, Sir George Baker P wrote the foreword to the first edition of Lowe and White's now classic Wards of Court, he noted with some surprise that the most recent edition of Lowe and White was published in 1986. Thirty years later, it is time for a modern treatment, properly reflective of the current shape of a jurisdiction which, as I remarked recently, 'despite its antiquity, has shown, is showing and must continue to show a remarkable adaptability to meet the ever emerging needs of an ever changing world'.
The central core of this important and valuable new book is the illuminating thematic discussion in Chapters 3-7 of the varied contemporary uses of this ancient jurisdiction. The discussion is not merely up to the moment and very topical; it is practical and directed to the needs of the busy practitioner grappling with topics as diverse as the internet and radicalisation. At the same time,our author does not omit to raise analytically challenging issues; why, for example, he asks pertinently, is the power to make orders restraining publicity still so often conceived as being part of the inherent jurisdiction? And the great utility of the book for practitioners in enhanced by the Appendices, setting out a very useful selection of statutory and other materials.
Two hundred years ago, Lord Eldon was familiar with the use of wardship to protect impressionable teenagers from the follies of youth. Everything has changed, but nothing changes. 'Hot pursuit' in the days of Lord Eldon would have been of the coach and four labouring over Shap Fell carrying the teenage heiress and heiress and her unsuitable paramour to the Scottish border and the blacksmith's forge at Gretna Green. Today, pursuit is of the airplane and bus carrying the would-be-teenage jihadist to the border between Turkey and Syria. But the approach remains and must remain as Lord Eldon put it all those years ago, 'it has always been the principle of this court, not to risk the incurring of damage to children which it cannot repair, but rather to prevent the damage being done'.
The author is to be thanked and congratulated for this very timely and useful book.
Sir James Munby
President of the Family Division
The Inherent Jurisdiction: what place does it have in the future of family justice?
Michael Jones, Barrister
Michael Jones is a family practitioner based predominantly on the Northern Circuit. The majority of his work involves public and private law children act proceedings as well as work in the Court of Protection. He has an interest in cases with an international element, particularly those where there are live issues of jurisdiction that require determination. Michael is an elected member of the Bar Council.An ever-evolving jurisdiction
The inherent jurisdiction is one of the legal oldest concepts existing within the family jurisdiction, with its use having been increasingly curtailed over the years, most notably following the Children Act 1989 coming into force. It is a doctrine of the English common law that the High Court has the jurisdiction to hear any matter that comes before it, unless Parliament has specifically limited that authority via statute, usually by granting exclusive jurisdiction to some other Court or tribunal. It is perhaps best described by Lord Diplock in the case of Bremer Vulkan Schiffbau und Maschinenfabrik v South India Shipping Company Ltd,
as a general power of the Court to control its own procedure so as to prevent its being used to achieve injustice. In Re M and N (Minors)  1 All ER 205 at para , Waite LJ stated the following in relation to the inherent jurisdiction:
'The prerogative jurisdiction has show striking versatility throughout its long history in adapting its powers to the protective needs of children, encompassing all kinds of different situations. Although the jurisdiction is theoretically boundless, the courts have, nevertheless, found it necessary to set self imposed limits upon its exercise, for the sake of clarity and consistency and avoiding conflict between child welfare and other public advantages.'
A number of recently reported cases act as reminders of the importance and continuing utility of the use of the inherent jurisdiction in the context of family justice in both domestic cases, and in those with an international element...Read the full article
from the November 2015 issue of Family Law Journal
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