||All England Reporter
|| All ER (D) 393 (Mar)
|| EWCA Civ 248
||Court of Appeal, Civil Division
Wall and Moses LJJ
||Charles Hale for the father.
||The mother did not appear and was not represented.
||23 March 2007
Practice - Family proceedings - Committal applications - Committal and contact applications - Father applying for contact - Mother applying to have father committed - Father unrepresented - Judge deciding to hear applications together - Judge failing to enquire why father unrepresented - Judge failing to adjourn committal proceedings to enable father to be represented - Whether judge in error.
Practice Family proceedings. Proceedings for committal were a criminal charge for the purposes of art6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, so a defendant to such proceedings had the right to representation. Where a defendant to committal proceedings was unrepresented, the judge should enquire as to the circumstances in which he was unrepresented and consider, at the outset of the hearing, whether there should be an adjournment so as to enable the defendant to be represented. Moreover, whilst it could not be said that applications for contact and committal should never be heard at the same time, it was difficult to envisage circumstances which compelled such a procedure.
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