Recent radicalisation cases in the Family Courts by Valerie Sterling

Family Law|October 30th 2015

Earlier this month, President of the Family Division Sir James Munby issued a guidance concerning ‘radicalisation’ cases in the Family Courts. He referred to eight recent judgments covering this issue – five from Mr Justice Hayden and three from the President himself.

In Re Y, Mr Justice Hayden made a sixteen year old boy, ‘Y’, who was described as a “vulnerable young person”, the subject of a wardship order and joined him as a respondent to the proceedings.

A ward of court is a child who has been placed under the protection of the court, which then acts ‘in loco parentis’ – in the place of the child’s parents. When the case was reviewed by Mr Justice Hayden, the wardship was continued despite the boy’s mother opposing the continuance of the order and saying that she would not let her son travel.

In the ‘Tower Hamlets case’, Mr Justice Hayden made orders for passports to be retrieved to prevent wards of court leaving the United Kingdom.

The case of Re M before the President of the Family Division concerned ex parte wardships (without notice) and anti-tipping-off orders. This last case concerned the way in which the Crown protects its subjects even if British children are abroad. The purpose of an anti-tipping-off order is to prevent a person knowing that legal steps are about to be taken.

In Re Z, Mr Justice Hayden granted an application made by a local authority to ward a 17 year-old female, ‘Z’, who seemed determined to try to travel abroad. He also granted a passport seizure order.

The President presided over two cases, Re X Children and Re Y Children which examined how electronic tagging as a protective measure could prevent adults taking children into a war zone.

Finally, in a case before Mr Justice Hayden – London Borough of Tower Hamlets and B – there was a ‘dramatic’ turn when the court authorised the separation of a 16 year old young woman from her family when certain alarming material was discovered during a police search of the home.

In my view, the High Courts are handling these complicated cases sensitively and imaginatively.

The President’s Guidance is still most welcome as it provides a useful checklist for family practitioners. It highlights key aspects of such proceedings, such as whether there is a need for a ‘closed hearing’ or the use of ‘special advocates’. This has to be balanced against a party’s Article 6 rights. This is a provision of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects a person’s right to a fair trial.

This is a rapidly changing legal landscape, affecting certain families and their children.



Valerie Sterling is a family law barrister and Head of the Family Team at New Park Court Chambers in Leeds. The Legal 500 described her as “extremely thorough” and said “her attention to detail is phenomenal”.

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  1. JamesB says:

    The Government has also appointed an anti-muslim Tsar to stop the growth in Sharia law and ‘the impoverishment of women under Islamic divorce law’, their words.

  2. JamesB says:

    Is this website sensoring and not publishing my comments now. My last three or more have not been uploaded. If this is not uploaded either I will not bother again. If you put up I may bother again. I suppose I will shortly see either way.

  3. JamesB says:

    p.s. Thank you either way for the site and it would be a bit of a shame if you go against the freedom of speech principle that you have had until now for the most part.

  4. JamesB says:

    This one (article) and the one from John about the CSA / CMS / CMEC / Cmoptions being ok with deals if they are by agreement of both parties but not of the amount in the formula. Where I responded (positively) to Yvie talking about voting UKIP and this one where I was talking about the government appointing an anti-sharia law anti-islamic divorce etc. tsar. Both responses have not been posted and have gone missing plus more, if I were to think i would remember what they are. Perhaps I should not post if being censored or technical issues mean I am talking to noone or a brick wall. Thank you for your reply.

  5. JamesB says:

    My comments went missing from two stories. This one on ‘Recent radicalisation cases in the Family Courts by Valerie Sterling’ and the other being the one on the John Bolsh post was about ‘UKIP: open up the family courts’.

    • Cameron Paterson says:

      Morning James: I think I have found the comments you mentioned. They seem to have fallen victim to a mysterious technical glitch and have now been restored. Thanks for flagging that up

  6. JamesB says:

    Ok, thanks.

  7. JamesB says:

    Good morning.

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