Re P (Service on Parent in a Refuge) [2023] EWHC 47120 March 2023

Published: 20/03/2023 09:00

McFarlane P. Guidance from President of Family Division on service of legal documents on a person thought to be living in a refuge. FPR 2010 does not address this. In this case, W was in a refuge and location and disclosure orders had been made against a number of government bodies and named staff at a refuge. The refuge applied to vary or discharge the order.

Summary of guidance applicable to service of court orders and other documents on a person thought to be residing in a refuge:

  1. Personal service at the address of the refuge should be required only in circumstances which are truly exceptional and urgent. The alleged perpetrator must never serve personally. Tipstaff or court bailiff should be used, preferably female officers in plain clothing.
  2. In all other cases, an alternative means of service under FPR Part 6 should be used such as personal service at an alternative location; service on a legal representative; service via refuge’s proffered PO Box or office address if they confirm that any material will be promptly brought to the attention of the person to be served; service by email/text/whatsapp; service by post via a third party.
  3. Court must be mindful of its duties under s 63 Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and FPR Parts 3A and 3AA. Where person is a migrant, the court should pay additional attention to the need to ensure any court orders are translated..
  4. Refuge address must never be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator or their solicitor even if an undertaking is offered.
  5. It would never be appropriate for individual refuge staff members to be required by court order to disclose confidential information. Any contact should be with CEO/Director.
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