On appeal from: [2012] EWCA Civ 984

In a short oral judgment given at a fact-finding hearing in a family court the judge determined that a child’s injuries had been caused by her father, but in a later judgment reached a different conclusion, holding that she was unable to determine whether it was the mother or the father that had harmed the child. The Court of Appeal quashed the later judgment and ordered that the findings of the initial judgment should stand.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal. It has long been the law that judges are entitled to reverse their decision at any point before the order is drawn up and perfected. The overriding objective must be to deal with a case justly. If, unlike the facts of this case, the initial judgment had already been sealed by the time the judge changed her mind it would still be detrimental to the interests of all concerned if the only way to correct such an error were by an appeal.

For judgment, please download: [2013] UKSC 8
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII