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The first hearing in the High Court of the foster parents' application for a residence order was heard on 7 December 2012when it was adjourned until the outcome of the hearing of 14 December 2012 was known. The grandmother had issued across application for the striking out of the foster parents' application for a residence order.By the hearing of 14 December 2012, the local authority was still firmly opposed to the children returning to thegrandmother, despite the Court of Appeal's orders of 9 and 16 November 2012, on the basis that it did not consider it in thechildren's best interest to be placed in the permanent care of the grandmother and that it still intended appealing to theSupreme Court once the order of the Court of Appeal was perfected.At the hearing of 14 December 2012, the Court of Appeal were extremely critical of the local authority's intransigence andrefusal to implement the transition plan, which had resulted in it being impossible for the children to be in the Slovak Republic in time for Christmas. The Court of Appeal allowed the grandmother's appeal, set aside the care and placementorders made by the court of first instance to the local authority, made a residence order in favour of the grandmother, orderedthat the local authority should begin immediately to implement to transitional arrangements so that the children leave the UKfor the Slovak Republic not before 31 December 2012, but not later than 4 January 2013, and permission was granted to thegrandmother to remove the children permanently from the jurisdiction of England and Wales, provided that the transitionplan had been completed. Permission to appeal to the Supreme Court was refused, as was a stay of the Court of Appealorder. An expedited transcript of the court's judgment was directed.The local authority left court on the basis that it would be applying to the Supreme Court forthwith for a stay of the Court of Appeal order of 14 December 2012. Late on the evening of 16 December 2012, the local authority e-mailed the parties toinform them that it had changed its mind and would not be appealing to the Supreme Court.The transition plan began on 17 December 2012 and was completed by 31 December 2012. It was so successful, that thechildren left the UK for the Slovak Republic in the grandmother's care on 1 January 2013.
Why was it necessary for the grandmother to be represented in the Court of Appeal proceedings?
The reasons why it was necessary for the grandmother to be legally represented were:-
The Court of Appeal was very keen that the grandmother be represented.
The grandmother does not speak English and would struggle to understand and best promote her position in the Court of Appeal proceedings, where all other parties were legally represented, the local authority and the children's guardian byQCs.
Despite the Court of Appeal having decided that the appeal should be allowed, the local authority was intransigentlyopposed to the children being placed in the grandmother's permanent care and had used a range of tactics to obstruct thedecision of the Court of Appeal including serving documents unreasonably late, failing to respond to correspondenceand lack of willingness to progress the proceedings and the transition plan, despite the clear directions of the Court of Appeal.
In the face of the above, the grandmother was extremely distrustful of agreeing to anything as she was suspicious that itwas in reality a tactic of the local authority to frustrate her case and prevent the children's placement in her care.
The proceedings had become extremely complex, with many parties, including the Central Authority of the Slovak Republic, with either party or intervener status in the proceedings. As such, it would be extremely difficult for thegrandmother, who is unable to speak English, to conduct the process on her own behalf and best promote her position.
The case had become very high profile both nationally and internationally as a result of media exposure particularly inthe Slovak republic but also in this country. The Slovak Ambassador was present at all hearings and the CentralAuthority of the Slovak republic was legally represented as a result of public and political concern about the case. Amedia injunction had been ordered by the Court of Appeal. All of these factors added to the complexity of the casemaking it extremely difficult for an unrepresented party to manage and conduct a case with so many competing andsensitive issues. sensitive