Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NJC v NPC & Others

The background to this case heard yesterday in the Court of Session is summarized in my earlier post Return of Children to France.

In March 2008 Lord Turnbull ordered three children to be returned to their mother in France. Subsequently the father sought an appeal against the decision and a legal guardian was appointed to the children.

In his submissions the father complained that he did not have sufficient access to papers because bail in extradition proceedings for the abduction of the children had been withdrawn and he was imprisoned. Also he explained that it would have been preferable that he should have had the benefit of legal representation, but that had not been possible as his previous as his previous legal advisors were no longer representing him. He complained the Opinion contained inaccuracies because of the unsatisfactory professional service given to him by his then legal advisers. Then he argued the best interests of those children would not be served by their being returned to France into the custody of their mother and the Court in Scotland was entitled to decline to order the return of the children to France upon the basis of the need for protection of them here. He contended the judge had not given the parties a fair hearing and the mother had been manipulative and dishonest. Adjournment which he sought should be granted in the interests of justice so that he could obtain professional representation.

Senior counsel for the mother said that he did not intend to address all of the multifarious matters raised by the father. His motion was that the mother's request for an adjournment of the Hearing should be refused. He also submitted that the appeal itself was without merit and should be refused. Senior counsel for the guardian stated that she had scrutinised the Court's decision from a child-focused angle and in light of that consideration, the guardian had reached the conclusion that an appeal could not be supported. No error on the part of the Lord Ordinary could be discerned. The judges ruled against the motion for an adjournment and were not persuaded that the Lord Ordinary's decision is open to criticism. Accordingly the appeal was refused and it was directed that discussion of the practical arrangements necessary to implement the Lord Ordinary's decision should go ahead at the earliest opportunity.

The full Opinion is here.


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