Three very important judgments from family law cases have been published which are worth reading this week.

The judgments span child contact with a jailed father convicted of child sex offences; a potentially ground breaking case about circumcision placing the decision with the child in question; and an attempt at removing a ban on reporting the names of medical professionals involved in ‘end of life’ proceedings for children.

The very good LexisNexis has provided well written summaries of these, which we are adding below.

Z v Z and others (Secretary of State for Justice intervening)

This case considered a child arrangement order for contact with an imprisoned father. In deciding to endorse the consent order for there to be indirect supervised contact between the father who was presently in prison following a conviction for sexual offences and the children, the Family Court held that the court had no power to compel a prison governor to facilitate the contact which was the subject of a child arrangements order under s 8 of the Children Act 1989.

Further, it held that a decision by a prison governor to refuse to facilitate contact, whether pursuant to an order made by the court or otherwise, was amenable to challenge in the Administrative Court, subject to the normal requirements applicable to claims for judicial review. Moreover, it held that it would be in both child’s best interests to approve the consent order that there be indirect supervised contact between the children and the father.

Re P (a child) (circumcision: child in care)

The case involved the applicant parents’ application, which failed, for the court’s authorisation for their son (P) to be circumcised, in accordance with the custom of the Muslim faith. P had lived all his life with extended maternal family members, who were likely soon to become his permanent carers under a Special Guardianship Order. The Family Court held that decision to circumcise P would be deferred until he was able to make his own choice, once he had the maturity and insight to appreciate the consequences and longer-term effects of the decision which he reached.

Abbasi and another v Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (PA Media intervening); Thomas and another v Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (PA Media intervening)

The case involved applications for the discharge of Restricted Reporting Orders (RROs) prohibiting the naming of any medical clinicians as being involved in the care and treatment of children who had been the subject of ‘end of life’ proceedings. Both sets of parents unsuccessfully applied for orders immediately discharging the reporting restriction orders (RPOs) prohibiting the identification of any treating clinicians and staff as being involved in the care and treatment of their respective children until further order and which had been made during ‘end of life’ proceedings prior to the children’s death.

The Family Division held that the court had jurisdiction to consider the continuance of the RROs, that the dispute about the continuance of each order fell to be determined by evaluating the competing rights under arts 8 and 10 of the ECHR in accordance with the approach described in Re S (a child) (identification: restriction on publication) [2004] ALL ER (D) 402 (Oct)and that the result of that process was that continuation of the RROs was justified and proportionate.