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Duty to be au courant with other issues

Litigation Letter

Duty to be au courant with other issues

In Re N (a child) family proceedings: Immigration FD TLR 26 November

Practitioners in family proceedings representing a parent who is also involved in some other relevant matter, such as an immigration or housing dispute, or criminal case has an ongoing duty to remain au courant with those other issues. In each of these two cases, the hearing had proved abortive because of the failure of those acting for the parent properly to ascertain what was going on in the parallel immigration proceedings. The result was delay, a waste of public money and the prejudice of other litigants who were case-ready. A court considering whether to make a residence order is bound to have regard to how capable each parent is of meeting the child’s needs and requires the most up-to-date information. Practitioners have a duty to find out from professionals acting for their client in any other relevant matter the stage those matters have reached. It is preferable to obtain copies of correspondence and documents to minimise uncertainty and misunderstanding. If practitioners find it difficult to obtain relevant information, the court should be approached for a peremptory order or an order pursuant to the President’s protocol: Communicating with the Home Office ([2004] 1 FLR 638).

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