Aidan Vine KC in TRC (Father) v NS (Mother) (Extensions of Time; Composite Hearings) [2024] EWHC 80 (Fam)

21st Mar 2024 | Cases

Aidan Vine KC, instructed by Chase Morgan Solicitors, represented the Respondent Mother in TRC (Father) v NS (Mother) (Extensions of Time; Composite Hearings) [2024] EWHC 80 an appeal from a decision by lay Magistrates to vacate a fact finding hearing in a dispute between parents about the terms of a child arrangements order. The Mother made serious allegations of domestic abuse against the Father in private children proceedings. The Father made admissions to the police, while also blaming the Mother for his behaviour, and was due to stand trial in the criminal court for coercive control in an intimate relationship.  At the beginning of the fact-finding hearing, the Magistrates found that it was no longer necessary to conduct a fact-finding hearing and directed that the fact-finding hearing be vacated as there was sufficient information to make welfare decisions without undertaking fact-finding.  The Judge dismissed the Mother’s appeal, having extended time for her application for permission to appeal. The Judge ruled that there was no obligation on the Magistrates to conduct a fact-finding hearing under either PD12J or H-N And Others (Children) (Domestic Abuse: Finding of Fact Hearings) (Rev 2) [2021] EWCA Civ 448 and subsequent decisions, and that the magistrates’ decision had been within their discretion.  The decision emphasises the importance of compliance with procedural time limits and applied the Court of Appeal’s test for extending time in Denton & Ors v TH White Ltd & Ors [2014] EWCA Civ 906.

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