Steven Howard successful in opposing appeal in Family Court findings of fact case

12th May 2023

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3PB Barristers’ (3 Paper Buildings) specialist family law barrister Steven HowardSteven HowardCall: 2009 has successfully represented the Local Authority in opposing the appeal to reopen a findings of fact case at the Court of Appeal.

The case in question, J (Children: Reopening Findings of Fact) [2023] EWCA Civ 465, involved the request by a stepfather to reopen a previous fact-finding case involving sexual assault allegations, made by two of the children, on the bases that the judge in the first instance has incorrectly applied the law. This was ultimately refuted by Lord Justice Peter Jackson, who refused the appeal.

Re J confirms the existing 3 stage test illustrated by previous cases Re E (Children: Reopening Findings of Fact) [2019] EWCA Civ 1447, [2019] 1 WLR 6765 and Re CTD (A Child) (Rehearing) [2020] EWCA Civ 1316, [2020] 4 WLR 140, and reiterates that “solid grounds” is a part of the evaluation the court must undertake, and not a shorthand for the test. It further establishes that the different approach taken in a first-instance decision of RL v Nottinghamshire County Council [2022] EWFC 13, [2022] 2 FLR 1012, [2022] 4 WLR 103 should not be followed.

Steven appeared in the case at first instance and on appeal and was led by Claire Wills-Goldingham in the Court of Appeal.

To read the full judgment, please click here

Steven Howard is an experience family law practitioner, specialising in all aspects of public and private children law. Steven regularly acts for parents, local authorities, guardians, extended family members, intervenors and the Official Solicitor at all levels of the Family Court, the High Court and Court of Appeal.

To contact or instruct Steven, please contact Practice Director Robert Leonard via email at [email protected] or telephone 01202 292 102.