The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of a father who was denied an adjournment in a child contact application.
In Re L, the father had applied for contact with his child, then aged 12, after not seeing her since she was a baby. However, the man fell out with his solicitors and they withdrew from the case. They sent the case documents to the father but these only arrived after he had left for a court appearance.
When in court the father asked for an adjournment in order to seek new solicitors, saying that a psychiatrist had stated that he was not fit to present the case himself. The judge was unsympathetic. He refused the application and made a ruling under the Children Act 1989 forbidding the father from making any further applications.
The Court of Appeal said the psychiatrist’s assessment had been significant and correspondence relating to this could have led the judge to make a different decision regarding the father, who was regarded as ‘vulnerable’.