Dr Charlotte Proudman successful in appeal which set aside child contact order in rape case


In the case of M v S [2023] RG21PO1079, Dr Charlotte Proudman represented the appellant mother at an appeal hearing. She was instructed by Duncan Lewis solicitors. Findings of rape of the mother post-separation and during/after child contact and other forms of domestic abuse had already been made at a fact-finding hearing. The father had also submitted intimate images of mother to the court and had been reported to the police in respect of a potential offence (§37). There was also a non-molestation in place (§37).

At a following hearing to decide on contact arrangements, there were no special measures (or participation directions) in place which meant that the mother could see the father who had raped her. The Judge encouraged the mother to agree contact arrangements directly with the father. A child arrangements order was made by consent order, which the mother appealed. 

There was no consideration of PD12J, PD3AA or Part 3A. The Judge noted that no formal risk assessment had been conducted by Cafcass in light of the findings made by the court (§35). The Judge highlighted the consequences of not applying PD12J, “If it is not applied when findings of domestic abuse have been made, any consequent order may not be safe” (§47).

The Judge ordered contact despite findings of rape noting at §13, “The advocate’s submissions, and the various judicial interjections are set out at pages 1-4 of the transcript, and conclude with the judge stating that “there is no need or justification for the supervision of L’s time with Father”. He does not give his reasons, beyond stating that he agrees with the Cafcass officer.” The Judge encouraged the rape victim and her rapist to directly speak to arrange contact. §14, “The judge then turned to progressing contact. He said that the parties needed to work out when the contact would take place “between the two of you” (p5 line 33). He then adjourned the hearing, inviting the parties to discuss “amongst yourselves” (p6 line 19) what the contact arrangements would be. He asked the Cafcass officer to facilitate this if necessary and she agreed. No consideration was given to special measures for Mother.”

Mother described the hearing as having a detrimental impact on her, which the court did not disagree with, “Mother’s averment that in the result she felt under pressure to consent in arrangements that she did not feel were in her son’s best interests and that she considers that both the arrangements and the manner in which they were put in place have emotionally harmed her, are not for this court to disagree with” (§45). The appellate Judge highlighted that the trial Judge shut down mother’s explanation and dismissed her concerns (§46).

Read the judgment here.

Related barristers: Dr Charlotte Proudman


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