The Court of Appeal (Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, Lord Justice Singh and Lady Justice Arden) unanimously allowed the appeal. Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE QC(Hon) and Senior Associate Colin Rogerson, instructing Alison Ball QC and Hassan Khan of Counsel, acted for the successful Appellant, J. J grew up in the ultra orthodox Jewish community and is the father of five children, who remain living in that community with their mother. Following the parents’ separation, J transitioned and now lives as a woman.
J appealed against an order of Mr Justice Peter Jackson in February 2017 that she could not have direct contact with her 5 children because the Judge found that there was a real risk, amounting to a probability, that the children and their mother would be ostracised from their religious community if they were allowed to have direct contact with their father. In allowing the appeal, the case has been remitted for further consideration by another High Court Judge.
This is an important decision, which the Court of Appeal acknowledged potentially has “profound significance for the law in general, and family law in particular”. It sends the clearest of messages that no religious community can operate on their own island but must conform to the law of the land.
The Court of Appeal also had the benefit of written interventions from the charity Stonewall and Keshet Diversity UK.