A 10-month delay in issuing a judgment in a child contact case did not vitiate the decision to refuse contact even where the child had continued to see his father for the majority of the time the case was at avizandum.

Sheriff Principal Scott determined that the mere passage of time, while “regrettable”, did not in the circumstances alter the substance of the evidence and submissions justifying the sheriff's decision.

Nor could the sheriff be criticised for failing to meet with the child to determine his up-to-date views while the case was at avizandum.

The integrity of the pursuer's arguments on appeal was also damaged by the lack of independent evidence about the quality of contact. No witness had been led who had observed contact taking place.

Yet, how often do we hear fathers criticised at child welfare hearings for not exercising contact autonomously?

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