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New UK Supreme Court favours original Magistrates’ Court decision over High Court and Court of Appeal. Re B (A Child) (UKSC 2009/0019)


Appellant was a grandmother assisted by Alison Ball QC and Peter Horrocks of 1 Garden Court. Father was represented by Pamela Scriven QC of 1 King’s Bench Walk and Cherie Parnell of East Anglian Chambers. Bench comprised of Lord Hope, Baroness Hale, Lord Collins, Lord Kerr (former LCJ for Northern Ireland)  and Lord Clarke.  Reasons to follow (updated on 19th Nov 2009 with judgment) here here )but background to case at Court of Appeal is here

I notice that the mother was in person, with no mention of her having availed of the assistance of a McKenzie friend. The decision to go all the way to what was formerly the House of Lords in person, but without a McKenzie friend is questionable at best.

Given that at the time of the Court of Appeal hearing the mother supported the father’s application, it may be inferred that she still held that view at the Supreme Court, and perhaps thought that the grandmother’s appeal was unlikely to succeed.   The mother was represented in front of the Magistrates’ but unrepresented at the High Court and at the Court of Appeal. One wonders whether the outcome would have been the same if mother had been represented and supported the father’s position that way? Perhaps the mother couldn’t get public funding? Who knows…

A couple of questions spring to mind; did this mother know she could have had the assistance of a McKenzie friend, and where was the Bar Pro Bono unit? Unless the mother was in the throes of doing a law degree it would be unlikely that of herself she would have been able to muster the legal argument that may have swayed such a venerable court.

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