Independent representation of articulate teenagers
In Mabon v. Mabon  2 FLR 1011, the Court of Appeal considered Rule 9.2A and the older line of authorities in the light of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, and Article 8 of the ECHR. The court acknowledged the greater appreciation and weight which must now be attached to the child’s autonomy and consequential right to participate fully in the decision-making process that fundamentally affects his life. It held that
“in the case of articulate teenagers…. the right to freedom of expression and participation outweighed the paternalistic judgment of welfare.”[paragraph 28].
However, if direct participation would lead to a risk of harm that the child was incapable of comprehending, then a judge could find that sufficient understanding had not been demonstrated. Judges must equally be alive to the risk of emotional harm that might arise from denying the child knowledge of and participation in the continuing proceedings [para.29].