Re M (Children) (Expert Evidence)

[2004] EWCA Civ 1311

Practical approach for Experts’ access

The Facts

This case involved a man who had been found to have committed some acts of sexual abuse against his own daughter, and the daughter of his partner. He had a further nine children with his partner, some very young. 

The proceedings came about because of a wish from the parents that they should be allowed to resume living together.

An expert from the organisation ‘Safehouses’ had been instructed on behalf of the father, but a court order had required that permission be sought before that expert should be allowed to have contact with any of the children. Permission was applied for and refused by a judge at first instance.

The father appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Issues

Whether the expert should be granted permission to see the children.

The Decision

The Court held that once the particular expert had been instructed, and given that it was common ground that allowing him to see the children would not cause the children harm, he should be allowed to see them; any other decision would effectively end that expert’s investigation.

This was effectively an interlocutory stage, and it would be premature to curtail an expert’s investigation at this point.

Comment

A logical decision by the Court of Appeal - as otherwise how could the expert properly report for the benefit of the Court.