On appeal from: [2010] CSIH 83

An appellant father challenged a decision of Stirling Sheriff Court not to grant an order for contact with the appellant’s child.

Held, dismissing the appeal unanimously: when making his decision, the sheriff had in mind the correct legal test. His findings demonstrated that he treated the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration. The sheriff’s failure to make any explicit reference to the relevant legal framework, the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, s 11, or to authorities, was of no consequence. The appellant had contented that the language used by the sheriff betrayed a lack of objectivity and impartiality. However, the Court held that although a judge must be careful to strike the appropriate balance between plain speaking and appropriate restraint, it was only exceptionally that the language used by a judge could give rise to an issue of law which might vitiate his decision. In the present case, the Supreme Court could not detect an error of law.

For judgment, please download: [2012] UKSC 21
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII