Hadkinson Order

Hadkinson Order
Hadkinson Order
Full Overview Of Hadkinson Order

A Hadkinson order is a significant legal instrument utilised within the British legal system, predominantly in family law. Named after the landmark case Hadkinson v. Hadkinson [1952] P 285, a Hadkinson order is a powerful tool to ensure compliance with court orders, particularly when one party wilfully disobeys such orders. This overview examines Hadkinson’s orders in-depth, exploring their historical context, legal framework, implications, and practical applications.

Historical Context

The concept of a Hadkinson order emerged from the case Hadkinson v. Hadkinson, decided by the Court of Appeal in 1952.

The case involved a mother who defied a court order by taking her child out of the jurisdiction despite a court ruling that mandated the child remain within the jurisdiction. The father sought the court’s assistance to compel the mother to return the child. The court’s decision established a precedent for using orders to ensure compliance with court mandates, effectively preventing a party from pursuing further legal action until they have rectified their non-compliance.

Legal Framework

Hadkinson orders are rooted in the principle that a party in contempt of court should not be permitted to seek further assistance or relief from the court until they have purged their contempt. This principle upholds the court’s authority and ensures that its orders are respected and enforced. The legal framework surrounding Hadkinson orders involves several key components:

  1. Contempt of Court: Contempt of court is a fundamental concept underpinning Hadkinson orders. Contempt occurs when a party willfully disobeys or disregards a court order, showing a lack of respect for the court’s authority.
  2. Equity and Fairness: Courts exercise their discretion in granting Hadkinson orders based on equity and fairness considerations. The primary aim is to ensure justice and compliance without unduly penalising the non-compliant party.
  3. Jurisdiction: The family courts and the High Court have the jurisdiction to issue Hadkinson orders. These courts have the authority to enforce their orders and ensure compliance through various means, including Hadkinson orders.

Implications for Parties

Hadkinson orders have significant implications for parties involved in legal proceedings, particularly family law cases. Understanding these implications is crucial for both legal practitioners and individuals navigating the legal system:

  1. Restriction on Legal Actions: A Hadkinson order restricts a non-compliant party’s ability to initiate or continue legal actions until they comply with the existing court order. This can include prohibiting the party from filing new applications, appealing decisions, or pursuing ongoing cases.
  2. Enforcement and Compliance: The primary purpose of a Hadkinson order is to compel compliance with court orders. The court exerts pressure to ensure adherence to its mandates by restricting the non-compliant party’s legal actions.
  3. Equitable Considerations: Courts consider the broader context and the interests of justice when deciding to issue a Hadkinson order. The order must be proportionate and fair, taking into account the specific circumstances of the case.
  4. Purging Contempt: To lift a Hadkinson order, the non-compliant party must purge their contempt by fulfilling the obligations of the original court order. This can involve actions such as returning a child to the jurisdiction, paying arrears of maintenance, or complying with custody arrangements.

Practical Applications

Hadkinson orders are primarily used in family law cases, where non-compliance with court orders can profoundly affect children’s welfare and justice’s interests. Practical applications of Hadkinson orders include:

  1. Child Abduction and Relocation: In cases where a parent unlawfully removes a child from the jurisdiction or fails to return the child as ordered by the court, a Hadkinson order can be instrumental in ensuring compliance. The order can prevent the non-compliant parent from pursuing further legal action until the child is returned.
  2. Maintenance and Financial Orders: Non-compliance with financial orders, such as maintenance payments, can significantly impact the welfare of the receiving party. Hadkinson orders can compel non-compliant parties to fulfil their financial obligations before they can pursue other legal remedies.
  3. Custody and Access Arrangements: Ensuring compliance with custody and access arrangements is crucial for the well-being of children. Hadkinson orders can be used to enforce these arrangements and prevent a non-compliant parent from seeking changes to the custody order until they have complied.

Case Law and Notable Examples

Several notable cases illustrate the application and implications of Hadkinson orders. Understanding these precedents provides valuable insights into the practical use of such orders:

  1. Hadkinson v Hadkinson [1952] P 285: The seminal case that established the principle behind Hadkinson orders. The Court of Appeal ruled that the mother, who had defied a court order by taking her child out of the jurisdiction, could not be heard by the court until she complied with the original order.
  2. G v G (Contempt: Committal) [2003] EWHC 2086 (Fam): In this case, a Hadkinson order was issued to compel a father to return his child to the jurisdiction. The father had unlawfully removed the child, and the court restricted his ability to pursue legal actions until he complied with the return order.
  3. Prest v Prest [2013] UKSC 34: Although not a Hadkinson order case per se, this Supreme Court decision highlighted the importance of compliance with court orders in family law. The court emphasised the need for parties to adhere to financial orders and fulfil their obligations.

Challenges and Considerations

While Hadkinson orders are a powerful tool for enforcing compliance, their use also presents specific challenges and considerations. Legal practitioners must navigate these complexities to advise and represent their clients effectively.

  1. Balancing Fairness and Enforcement: Courts must balance the need to enforce compliance with considerations of fairness and proportionality. A Hadkinson order should not unduly penalise a non-compliant party or exacerbate existing conflicts.
  2. Assessing Capacity and Intent: Determining whether a party’s non-compliance is willful or due to genuine incapacity or inability can be challenging. Courts must carefully assess the intent and circumstances behind non-compliance.
  3. Impact on Children: In family law cases, the welfare of children is paramount. Hadkinson orders must be crafted to protect children’s best interests while ensuring custody and access arrangements compliance.
  4. Procedural Safeguards: It is crucial to ensure that Hadkinson orders are issued with appropriate procedural safeguards. Parties must have the opportunity to be heard, and the orders should be clear and specific in outlining the steps required to purge contempt.

Role of Solicitors

As solicitors, our role in advising and representing clients in matters involving Hadkinson orders is critical. We must provide comprehensive legal guidance, advocate for our clients’ interests, and navigate the complexities of these orders. Our responsibilities include:

  1. Advisory Services: Advising clients on the implications of non-compliance with court orders and the potential use of Hadkinson orders to enforce compliance.
  2. Representation in Court: Representing clients in court proceedings related to Hadkinson orders, including applications for such orders and challenges to their issuance.
  3. Negotiation and Mediation: Engaging in negotiation and mediation to resolve disputes and achieve compliance with court orders without the need for Hadkinson orders, where possible.
  4. Compliance and Enforcement: Assisting clients in fulfilling their obligations under court orders to avoid the imposition of Hadkinson orders. This may involve providing guidance on specific actions required to purge contempt.


Hadkinson orders play a vital role in ensuring compliance with court orders, particularly in family law cases. By restricting a non-compliant party’s ability to pursue further legal actions, these orders uphold the authority of the court and protect the interests of justice. As legal practitioners, understanding the historical context, legal framework, implications, and practical applications of Hadkinson orders is essential for providing effective legal advice and representation.

At DLS Solicitors, we are committed to safeguarding our clients’ interests and ensuring compliance with court orders. Through comprehensive advisory services, robust representation in court, and proactive negotiation and mediation, we strive to navigate the complexities of Hadkinson orders and achieve just outcomes for our clients. By staying informed about case law developments and best practices, we can effectively address the challenges and considerations associated with Hadkinson orders, upholding the principles of equity and fairness in the legal system.

Through collaboration with clients, courts, and other legal professionals, we can enhance the effectiveness of Hadkinson orders as a tool for enforcing compliance and protecting the rights of all parties involved. Whether addressing issues of child abduction, maintenance payments, or custody arrangements, Hadkinson orders remain a crucial instrument in the pursuit of justice and the enforcement of court mandates.

Hadkinson Order FAQ'S

A Hadkinson order is a court order that prevents a party in contempt of court from pursuing or continuing legal proceedings until they comply with previous court orders. It is named after the case Hadkinson v. Hadkinson [1952].

A Hadkinson order may be issued when a party fails to comply with a court order and then seeks to initiate or continue legal proceedings. The order compels the party to comply with the original order before their new or ongoing legal actions can proceed.

The legal basis for a Hadkinson order stems from the principle that parties should not be allowed to benefit from the court’s assistance if they breach its orders. It is rooted in the court’s inherent jurisdiction to enforce its own orders and ensure respect for its authority.

Yes, Hadkinson orders are often applied in family law cases, particularly where a party has failed to comply with financial orders or child custody arrangements and then seeks further relief from the court.

To apply for a Hadkinson order, a party must file an application with the court, outlining the other party’s non-compliance with a previous court order and requesting that they be barred from pursuing further legal action until compliance is achieved.


Yes, a Hadkinson order can be appealed. The party subject to the order may argue that the original order was complied with, that compliance is impossible, or that the Hadkinson Order is unjust in the circumstances.

To lift a Hadkinson Order, the party must comply with the original court order they breached. This may involve making overdue payments, fulfilling specific actions ordered by the court, or rectifying any other form of non-compliance.

Exceptions to the enforcement of a Hadkinson Order may be considered if the party can demonstrate that compliance with the original order is impossible or that there are exceptional circumstances making the Hadkinson Order unjust.

Yes, Hadkinson orders can be used in civil litigation to prevent a party in contempt of court from pursuing or defending legal claims until they comply with prior court orders.

A Hadkinson Order effectively suspends the ongoing legal proceedings of the non-compliant party. This means that the court will not hear their case or allow them to take any further steps in the litigation until they comply with the outstanding court orders.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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