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Judge should have viewed evidence of brother in care case, Appeal Court rules

A judge should have viewed the evidence provided by a 13 year old boy when considering a care application, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

In Re L, a local authority had launched care proceedings for his sister’s child, a 17 month-old toddler, after he claimed that the mother had been sexually abusive. The authority was also concerned about domestic violence in the home, neglect and exposure to other sexual offenders.

At a case hearing, the judge considered whether or not  the teenager should give evidence in the care proceedings. The judge was unable to watch a videotaped ‘Achieving Best Evidence’ interview with him, which was available on a DVD. He therefore relied on a social worker’s report, which stated that the boy was “distressed”. The judge therefore ruled that the teenager should not give evidence in the case. In addition, the judge ruled that it was not necessary to include documents relating to criminal proceedings involving the mother in the care case.

At the Court of Appeal, Lord Justices Tomlinson and Ryder, along with Lady Justice Gloster, said it was clear that the judge should have viewed the DVD or at least read a transcript of the interview before making any decisions. They set aside the earlier ruling.

Documents relating to the criminal proceedings should also be included, they declared. Such documents would allow fair cross-examination and proper consideration of the evidence.


The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Tristan says:

    This appeal arose because the judge at first instance took a truly massive short cut in disregarding evidence. It only goes to show how the wide discretion accorded to judges in family cases can be abused. How many separated fathers, subjected to the same kind of procedural abuse in their applications, get given a second chance at the court of appeal? Not many, I bet.

  2. anon says:

    Thank you for this. If possible would someone be kind enough to tell me where to find a transcript of this judgement?

  3. Tristan says:

    Go through the latest list of published cases on the Family Law Week website. You should see it in there somewhere.

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