H v L and R: FD 7 Dec 2006

A male litigant in person wished to cross-examine a young adult woman whom he was alleged to have abused sexually when she was a child. The young woman in question was a borderline anorexic and a suicide risk. In criminal proceedings, section 34A of the 1988 Act and sections 34 and 35 of the 1999 Act would forbid a defendant from cross-examining a child witness personally.
Held: No such provisions applied in the Family Courts. The Attorney-General , at the court’s urgent request, agreed, exceptionally, to provide an advocate.
Wood J concluded: ‘I would invite urgent attention as to creating a new statutory provision which provides for representation in such circumstances, analogous to the existing statutory framework governing criminal proceedings as set out in the 1999 Act. Such a statutory provision should also provide that the costs of making available to the court an advocate should fall on public funds. I can see no distinction in policy terms between the criminal and the civil process. Logic strongly suggests that such a service should be made available to the family jurisdiction. If it is inappropriate for a litigant in person to cross-examine such a witness in the criminal jurisdiction, why not in the family jurisdiction? This is my judgment’.


Wood J


[2006] EWHC 3099 (Fam), [2007] 2 FLR 162, [2007] 1 FCR 430




Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 34 35, Criminal Justice Act 1988 34A


England and Wales

Cited by:

ApprovedChief Constable and Another v YK and Others FD 6-Oct-2010
The court gave directions in Forced Marriage Protection order applications. An order had been made at the request of the police on behalf of A, and the court had declined to discharge it on A’s own application.
Held: Special advocates were not . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Family, Litigation Practice

Updated: 21 July 2022; Ref: scu.279030