A father has failed in his bid to claim damages from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).
In F-D v Cafcass, the public body faced allegations of negligence, ‘misfeasance in public office’ (misuse or abuse of their power) and a breach of the father’s right to a family life.
The claim arose out of “a most unhappy dispute” between the father and his ex-wife regarding the amount of contact he could have with their now 16 year old son.
The father alleges that due to “negligent advice and support” from Cafcass, the court made an order which effectively deprived him of contact with his son and that, due to their delays in dealing with specific complaints about the decision following the ruling, he “lost heart” and gave up his appeal against it.
Sitting at the High Court in London, His Honour Judge Bidder noted that the father was unrepresented at the hearing, yet still managed to present his argument “with considerable ability”.
Despite the father’s argument being presented well, Judge Bidder did not find it convincing when compared to the evidence.
The judge did not accept the father’s claim that Cafcass was “inefficient, biased and ineffective”, adding that the people working on the case were dealing with constrained resources, and that “Cafcass cannot be blamed for being under-resourced”.
The father also argued that his right to a family life had been breached.
His argument stemmed from Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which states that everyone has the right to respect for their family life.
It also states:
“There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
Once again, Judge Bidder did not agree with the father’s assessment.
“[I]n my judgment … it is not arguable that any actions of [Cafcass] caused a breach of the [father]’s article 8 rights.”
The judge went on to conclude that the father’s claims for damages were “not well founded” and dismissed them.
Cafcass works to safeguard the interests of children in family law cases.
Photo by SalFalko via Flickr