Barring orders under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 05:47:06 PM
A barring order is a court order to bar or prevent a claimant from making "vexatious" applications. The definition of vexatious is where a person brings action against someone without any winning argument and they simply want to cause frustration to the defendant.

The effect of a barring order is to stop a litigant from making any further applications to the court. It is argued often that these orders are a draconian measure, one of which is sometimes a bar to fathers who are genuinely attempting to see their children, for example. In order to stop 'the bar' it is only a case of making an application to ask to make a further order. This will be granted if the applicant has a realistic reason for the order.

Previous cases have made sure that the court should not make a barring order unless both parties have been given previous warning and have had an opportunity to argue their points about the order, particularly if they are litigants in person. There are many examples, where the court has been reluctant to grant these orders without carrying out proper procedure in the initial parts of legal action.

In one case, the judge set out some useful guidelines, which are still applicable today. In cases where there have been vexatious i.e. repeated and unreasonable applications, then a barring order is a last resort. However, in cases where the welfare of a child is at stake, an order might be granted if the potential court action would place too much pressure on the primary carer.

Once granted, a barring order can be changed by the judge to reflect the circumstances of the case. The court must say how long the bar will last for, but this usually has a time frame. Indefinite orders require substantial reasoning as to why they are required for so long.

After a Section 91(14) has been granted, a person would need to gain permission to bring action to court. In this case, an application would be made to a court for the order to be lifted. This would be tested against a number of criteria to determine the outcome of the permission application.

It is clear that a barring order is made in circumstances where a person is seen to be making both numerous and unreasonable family law applications. There has been a significant increase in attempts to finalise disputes in courts, to prevent long-standing disputes, which can disrupt family lives. Therefore, many examples of barring orders are diminishing where a judge has been has been too harsh or has ignored human rights in the main applications.

In summary, barring orders are meant to be reserved for the most extreme cases, but is often applied to non resident parents, who are seeking a reasonable level of contact with their own children. If you find yourself under a barring order, it is vital that you take action by changing your situation to nullify the original reasons for the order. This would give you the best chance to challenge the order and get a better result from the court.

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