Alex Aspinwall appeared on behalf of the respondent mother in proceedings brought pursuant to article 12 of the Hague Convention 1980 for summary return of a child to Slovakia. The mother opposed the application and relied on the defence set out in article 13(b) of the Convention.
Alex succeeded in establishing the grave risk of harm (limb one of the test) but the court found that sufficient protective measures existed in Slovakia to mitigate any risk to the mother and child.
Please see here for the judgment.
Jay Banerji represented the Mother in an important case on unknown causation where an infant had sustained a skull fracture. No findings were made against the parents, and the proceedings were dismissed.
Alex Aspinwall (for the father) and Robin Powell (for the mother) appeared in a fact-finding hearing concerning allegations of abuse made by the respondent mother. The mother raised 39 separate allegations to advance a case of controlling and coercive behaviour dating from the parties first meeting until separation. The court determined that it would only hear evidence in relation to 14 of those allegations. The father, in turn, alleged a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour directed against him. He submitted that the children’s removal from the jurisdiction was part of a wider plan to freeze him out of their lives.
Evidence was given over the course of 4 days and counsel made submissions on (a) the proper approach to considering evidence of controlling and coercive behaviour in light of the decision in Re H-N & Ors  EWCA Civ 448, (b) the approach to Lucas directions following A, B and C  EWCA Civ 451 and (c) the credibility of each party and weight to be given various pieces of evidence presented to the court.
Please see here for the judgment. The court’s findings are set out at . 10 findings were made against the father.
The case is reported in Bailii here.
Joan represented the appellant mother in an appeal to the Court of Appeal which argued that it can be right to use s20 accommodation for the long-term care of a child and that in suitable cases it is not necessary for the local authority to hold a s31 order. Joan, led by Deidre Fottrell KC was successful in arguing that the court at first instance was wrong to conclude that a child should be placed in long-term care under a care order when it was clear that the parents had no intention of disrupting the placement and agreed that residential care was the best option for their child. Cases in which the courts criticised local authorities for the improper use of s20 were distinguished. The case is important as parents retain parental responsibility on an equal footing to the local authority if the child is accommodated under s20 rather than a s31 order being made, strengthening the parents’ ability to advocate for their child and putting the parents and local authority on an equal footing.
This point is made in the article written by Joan and Tatiana Rocha which examined the case of Re S and its implications for other similar cases: “Putting parents on a level playing field: when is s20 appropriate for the long-term care of a child?” A copy of the article can be found on this link:
Ranjit successfully represented a mother who had been refused permission to apply to revoke a placement order made in respect of her children. The court of Appeal accepted his argument that the previous judge had placed the bar to high.
A judge is at liberty to depart from the Local Authority threshold document in making findings of fact against a parent, including a finding of a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour, so long as a parent has a reasonable opportunity to put his case on any additional matters and there is procedural fairness. The further the findings of fact deviate from the threshold document the more caution must be shown in ensuring fairness to the parent.
An appeal by the mother against an order for summary return was granted because the judge at first instance failed to give reasons for his finding that the child would not be at risk of grave harm despite a video of the father making threats to kill the child and the mother making allegations of the father threatening to kill her and her children during episodes of heavy drinking.