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Caselaw

Remedying an error of fact in a Family Law case

Posted by Ruken Sahin on June 19, 2017

This was a family law appeal case heard on 16/12/16 before Mr. Justice Baker in the High Court of Justice (Family Division) on appeal from the Reading Family Court.

Facts and chronology:

The proceedings concerned the Appellant father and the Respondent mother’s 14 ½ year old daughter A, who resided with the Respondent. The parties had conducted extensive proceedings, over several years, involving allegations and cross allegations and there had been a number of judgements. Recent proceedings were on the basis of whether or in what manner the Appellant should have contact with A.

The matter went before Judge Owens at the Reading Family Court who ordered indirect contact between the Appellant and A, instead of the direct contact that the Appellant had sought.

Judge Owens also directed that neither party be able to make any further applications for an order under s.8 of the Children Act 1989 in respect of A “without the court’s permission for a period of two years”.

The Appellant took issue with a sentence in to the draft judgement which Judge Owens had not been prepared to amend and the Appellant was specifically advised to appeal if he wished to take the matter further to remedy the error of fact in the case.

Appeal to the High Court

The Appellant therefore appealed to the High Court on the basis of an objection to the one sentence in Judge Owens’ judgement which stated:

 “…Checks in relation to the father revealed that he had convictions for offences of serious violence towards his partner….”

Although the Appellant had convictions for theft and assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 1988 this assault did not concern a partner and no cautions were recorded. Police information also disclosed that the Appellant had been subject to a number of criminal investigations involving the Respondent had had been found not guilty on each occasion.

The Appellant sought to have the sentence struck out of the judgement on the grounds that he did not have any convictions for offences of serious violence towards his partner and wanted the record to accurately reflect this. He also wanted to ensure that if A read the judgement in due course, she would not get an “untrue picture of his background”.

Decision

Taking the above into consideration, Mr. Justice Baker allowed the Appellant’s appeal only to the extent that sentence in the judgement of Judge Owens was amended as follows:

“Checks in relation to the father reveal that he had a conviction for an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 1988.  Although he has been the subject of allegations on a number of occasions since then, he has not been convicted of any offence of violence.”