July 11, 2023
The matter of Manchester City Council v Maryan Yusef, Farad Abdi & The Children (through their Children’s Guardian)  EWHC 1248 (Fam) concerns Manchester City Council’s application dated 13 April 2023 to commit the father, Mr Farad Abdi to prison for his breach of previous orders made by the Court.
This matter was a Final Hearing taking place on 11 May 2023 before Mr Justice Macdonald in the High Court of Justice, Preston District Registry. The Local Authority’s application against Mr Abdi, stemmed from their original application that was before the Court for wardship orders in respect of the children and an order their summary return to the jurisdiction from Somalia, which was issued on 13 October 2022. The children’s location remained unknown at the time of the hearing, with them believed to still be in Somalia. At this hearing, it was alleged by the Local Authority that Mr Abdi had yet again failed to comply with orders of the Court – namely an order requiring him to cause the children to return to this jurisdiction, and with an order to provide the Local Authority with the PIN number for his mobile phone to allow them search the same and progress their search for the children.
At the time of the hearing, Mr Abdi was being detained at HMP Kirkham serving a sentence for contempt of court. Mr Abdi refused to attend the hearing, stating that as it was a civil matter, he believed that he had a right to refuse. Mr Abdi had also taken this position at the previous hearing on 3 May 2023 – stating that as these were civil proceedings there was no obligation for him to be produced.
There were issues with effecting service of the notice of this hearing on Mr Abdi, as he refused to leave his prison cell in order to be personally served and had to be served in his cell. Mr Abdi was also unrepresented at the hearing, despite being given many opportunities to obtain legal representation. As a result, the Court first had to decide as a preliminary issue whether to proceed with the Final Hearing where Mr Abdi had failed to attend despite having proper notice, and was unrepresented. After considering the legal principles established by Justice Cobb in Sanchez v Oboz  EWHC 235 (Fam) – the Judge was satisfied that it would be appropriate to proceed with the Final Hearing in Mr Abdi’s absence.
In respect of the committal application itself, Mr Justice Macdonald found beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Abdi was in breach of the order by failing to ensure that the children were returned from Somalia to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. Mr Justice Macdonald was of the view that Mr Abdi being in custody did not prevent him from complying with the order. Mr Abdi had several visits from Social Services, providing him ample opportunity to provide information confirming the whereabouts of the children. He also had opportunity to arrange legal representation, to which he could have then provided the required information. Mr Abdi could’ve contacted his family members whilst in prison to provide them information, and he could’ve attended the Final Hearing to provide the information. Mr Abdi failed to do all of the above.
Mr Justice Macdonald also found beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Abdi was in breach of the order by failing to inform the Local Authority of the PIN number and passwords to his mobile phones. Mr Justice Macdonald was of the view that Mr Abdi did not need to be released in order to comply, as he likely would have this information to hand from memory but failed to provide it.
As a result, Mr Justice Macdonald sentenced Mr Abdi to twelve months’ imprisonment. Further orders were also made for Mr Abdi to cause the return of the children to the jurisdiction, and to surrender his PIN number and passwords for his mobile phones.
You can read about the cases here:
Manchester City Council v MaryanYusef, Farad Abdi & The Children (through their Children’s Guardian) EWHC 1248 (Fam) - https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2023/1248.html
Sanchez v Oboz  EWHC 235 (Fam) - https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2015/235.html
If you have a family or children case you need assistance with, please contact Mavis on 020 8885 7986 for an appointment with a family solicitor in the team.
If you have a family case where you require some advice or representation, please contact Mavis for an appointment with a family solicitor on 020 8885 7986.