Derbyshire County Council v Kathleen Danby [2014] EWCOP B22 (Fam) (HHJ Cardinal)

Practice and Procedure – Other

Short Note

This is the third reported case in these proceedings. The first involved the imposition of a Hadkinson Order on B’s father and the second the imposition of a 4 year period where an application could not be made to discharge injunctions on contact without permission (see immediately above).

This was an application by the local authority that B’s grandmother had breached several elements of an injunction against her having contact with her granddaughter.

The judge first satisfied himself that the technical requirements for a committal application had been complied with and then reviewed the evidence that the grandmother had breached the injunction order (including CCTV which showed that she had arranged to meet and had met her granddaughter in breach of the injunction). He held that he was satisfied to the criminal standard of proof that the breaches of the injunction complained of by the local authority were all made out.

The judge sentenced the grandmother to three months’ imprisonment concurrently. He issued a warrant for her arrest and listed the matter for review in two months’ time. At the review hearing, the grandmother was invited to attend court, mitigate and try to persuade the judge to take a different view.

It is notable (and unsurprising following the furore which attached to the same judge due to the Wanda Maddocks case) that HHJ Cardinal expressly addressed the issue of whether the Practice Guidance issued by the President and the then Lord Chief Justice of 3 May 2013 had been complied with. He considered that it had: it was a public hearing with proper notice being placed outside the court and downstairs in the court’s reception area in compliance with the Practice Direction of 4 June 2013. Reference to the guidance having been complied with did not deter the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2653442/Secret-court-jails-gran-hugged-granddaughter-Pensioner-sentenced-three-months-disobeying-order-not-teenager.html). The Mail made cryptic reference to “lawyers […] debating whether, by failing to give any information about why Mrs Danby is banned from seeing her granddaughter, Judge Cardinal had met the full requirements brought in after the Maddocks case”. Given that the first part of the judgment deals with the reasons for the injunction and the precise terms of the injunction (imposed by Her Honour Judge Thomas in the Court of Protection) the debate is likely to have been short.