English ‘family justice’ and its evasion of human rights

MP a two year old dual nationality Bulgarian child was adopted by order of Cambridge County Court (His Honour Judge Yelton) yesterday. (The judge gave leave to report his decision without the name of the child.) The child’s grandmother and her family in Bulgaria were offering a home to the little girl. The case exposes, perhaps, poor understanding of legal principle and questionable local authority evidence. The family were prevented from looking after her.

The case shows the state of application of legal principle within the English family justice system especially in relationto human rights legislation. In this context, relatively basic court rules seem to have been overlooked by judges at county court, High Court and Court of Appeal level (see [2013] EWCA Civ 1216).

By human rights is meant only that:

  • a grandmother of a two year old child was given no trial of her application before the court;
  • she was racially discriminated against (she is Bulgarian and, though trained to be a judge herself, she cannot read English);
  • her right to legal aid was not understood by judges and lawyers alike in the case; and
  • her right to a family life (a right for others re-emphasised by the Supreme Court in terms which most judges should be able to understand: Re B (Care Proceedings: Appeal) [2013] UKSC 33, [2013] 2 FLR 1075) was ignored by the English courts.

Family justice has for many years operated in private. If English judges had cosidered more carefull the letter and intent of the European Convention 1950, a small Bulgarian child might have been considered more equitably for return to her family in Bulgaria.

David Burrows



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