Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Law report - Can Supreme Court award child support payments

A v B [2012] SC (Bda) 60 Civ (26 October 2012)

The Applicant brought an action to claim child support payments from the Respondent in the Supreme Court.

The Respondent objected, saying that such claims had to be brought in the Magistrates' Family Court.

Hellman J held:

The parties cannot voluntarily submit to Supreme Court jurisdiction if the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear that case [7].

The relevant sections of the Children's Act suggest that such applications are to be brought in the Magistrates' Court [14].

There were two Bermuda judgments with conflicting views on whether the Supreme Court could in fact be used for such claims: W v M [2009] SC (Bda) 18 Civ, and Harshaw v Reid [2012] SC (Bda) 18 Civ. In neither case was the issue central but Harshaw v Reid concerned a barrister's bills and did not receive full argument on the point, nor was W v M put before the court. Hellman J preferred the view in W v M that the Supreme Court could not be used [27].

The Supreme Court did not have inherent jurisdiction, the matter having been legislated by parliament as to where a claim should be brought. The Supreme Court continued to have inherent jurisdiction for matters relating to children outside of the statutory scheme [33].

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