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Section 91.14 Orders

What is a section 91.14 Order?

Section 91.14 of the Children Act 1989 empowers a judge to require that a person must permission before making any further applications to the family court. Section 91.14 of the Children Act reads:

(14) On disposing of any application for an order under this Act, the court may (whether or not it makes any other order in response to the application) order that no application for an order under this Act of any specified kind may be made with respect to the child concerned by any person named in the order without leave of the court.

When might the Court make a Section 91.14 Order?

Section 91.14 Orders are made for several reasons:

  1. A judge believes that parties are making applications for vexatious reasons (e.g. due to hostility);
  2. A judge believes that applications are being made without any merit (the reasons for the applications are misguided);
  3. A judge reaches the conclusion that the parties need a break from litigation, and that a period of respite may help the existing arrangements ´bed in´.
  4. A judge may decide a Section 91.14 Order is appropriate even when neither party has applied for such an order to be made. Alternatively, one or both parties may request that the court grant a Section 91.14 Order and the judge may agree. If a Guardian is appointed during proceedings to represent the child, or CAFCASS become involved to report on the family´s circumstances and make recommendations for the court to consider, they too may recommend the making of a Section 91.14 Order.

How long do Section 91.14 Orders last?

A Section 91.14 Order will normally include a time limit, after which the order expires. After the order expires, permission to make an application is no longer required. Only in exceptional circumstances will the order not include a time limit, although the judge must explain in his judgment given at the time of making the order, why the order is being made for an indefinite period of time. If no such explanation is given, or if the reasons are not robust, these may be grounds for appeal.

In exceptional circumstances, the court may not specify a time limit, but must explain why.

Can a Section 91.14 Order be made without notice?

Parties to proceedings should be given ample notice that a Section 91.14 is being considered by the court. This is especially important where a party does not have legal representation (where they are a litigant-in-person). Exceptional circumstances are required before the court can dispense with notice being given.

It should be noted that where there is a recommendation for a Section 91.14 Order within a Guardian´s or Cafcass Officer´s Section 7 (Welfare) Report, and where parties were in receipt of this recommendation in advance of a hearing, this would likely be considered to be sufficient informal notice. If there is no such informal or formal notice of a Section 91.14 Order being made, then the lack of notice may be grounds for appeal.

Does a s91.14 Order prevent further applications?

No. A Section 91.14 Order simply requires that the court must give leave (permission) before an application can be made. Where an application has merit, permission to make an application should be granted. It should further be noted that a Section 91.14 Order may direct that further applications are considered ´on paper´ before the respondent is notified that an application might be made.

How do I apply once a s91.14 Order has been made?

To seek permission to apply for an order, you would complete a C2 Form, and also complete a draft application for the order that you wish to apply for. Keep a copy for yourself, and provide the court with the original forms, together with copies for each person named as a respondent by you within the draft application. You have a right to request an ´oral hearing´ (speaking to the judge in person) when applying for permission to make an application, although the court may grant your permission application ´on paper´ (e.g. based upon your arguments written in the C2 Form and draft application).

Please also refer to our dedicated case law menu:

Section 91.14 Case Law

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Michael Robinson © 2014

Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales

Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's printer for Scotland.

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