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“Your numbers up Payne v Payne” Time for change?

Sorry for the hiatus, but was on paternity leave after the wonderful Mrs McKenzie produced yet another beautiful baby McKenzie. I have been doting on my son, as new father’s should do.

I did keep one case in my list though; a Leave to Remove case at Circuit level in England. How I wish I hadn’t as I am thoroughly ashamed of what currently passes as binding precedent in the area of International Relocation.

Payne-v-Payne [2001] EWCA Civ 166 is supposedly the leading authority, and for those of you not familiar with the area you should read the case here. The latest case of note is Re D (Children) [2010] EWCA Civ 50 which was an unsuccessful permission to appeal hearing by a litigant in person father. There is a transcript of the judgement and some comment on the Family Law Week site here.The site contains the essential links, including an interesting article by Clare Renton here.

Case was listed for 2 full days and the father had to sit and listen to 2 days of evidence from mother and stepfather, who had already moved out to Australia (stepfather not mother and stepfather). The child was 8 rising 9 and had told CAFCASS on the six occasions she was spoken to by CAFCASS that she wanted to live with her dad. CAFCASS noted that she was bright and articulate.

Father of course was a litigant in person and I was granted a Right of Audience for the final hearing. Counsel was a male barrister who was dignified, knowledgeable and courteous. As seems to be the norm in England, there was no solicitor in attendance.

Leave to remove was granted, despite father having what I and others viewed to be a winnable case.

I can’t say much more as the case is soon to darken the doors of the Court of Appeal, and the N161 is being worked on at this moment.

I hope that the comments of Wall LJ who is now the President of the Family Division still stand where he said that:-

33…There has been considerable criticism of Payne v Payne in certain quarters, and there is a perfectly respectable argument for the proposition that it places too great an emphasis on the wishes and feelings of the relocating parent, and ignores or relegates the harm done of children by a permanent breach of the relationship which children have with the left behind parent.

34. As I say, this is a perfectly respectable argument, and would, I have no doubt, in the right case constitute a “compelling reason” for an appeal to be heard. The question, to my mind, is twofold: (1) has the time come to reconsider Payne v Payne; and (2) is this the right case? I propose to concentrate on the latter question, since in my judgment both have to answer “yes” if permission to appeal on this ground is to be granted.

I note with healthy scepticism that his Lordship did not answer the question posed in the first limb of his own test.  It does not follow from his comments that the now President supports a review of Payne, and even if he does he will likely be opposed by some other senior jurists as well as those groups with an ideological and vested interest, who are well resourced when it come to commissioning and producing ‘research’.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Nick Langford April 27, 2010, 6:54 pm

    Fairly sceptical too, and yet he did raise the question… It is a nettle which must be grasped sooner or later and his comment will have increased the pressure just a little.