The Court of Appeal have recently handed down a significant Judgment in Re AM & AC [2011] EWCA Civ 795 where Anita Mehta appealed a decision of a Judge who declined to establish the maternity of a child.

The Child had been ordered by a Judge to provide a sample to allow a DNA test to be undertaken to establish maternity. However, the child had declined. The Court had then declined to conduct a fact-finding hearing and the question was left unresolved.

The President explored the relevant provisions in the Family Law Reform Act 1969 and reiterated the importance of establishing a child’s maternity but said that a fact-finding hearing was not required. He relied on the Guidance he has already given about when this is appropriate: [2010] Fam Law 752. However, the trial Judge should have examined whether adverse inferences could be drawn from the refusal tpo participate in the DNA testing process.

Additionally, the President reminded Courts that they should be cautious about basing any judgment on the immigration status of S, which is a matter for the Secretary of State: – see, for example, Re A (Care Proceedings: Asylum Seekers) [2003] 2 FLR 921.

Please click here to see full judgement.