Family Law Hub

Inherent Jurisdiction

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  • The mother was English, and the father was Libyan, with a British passport. They had three children, aged 3, 5 and 6. The mother had left Libya in 2018 but the children had remained there. She now applied under the inherent jurisdiction for orders that the court should protect the children, invoking "the ancient parens patriae jurisdiction": the Crown's obligation to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. She had not raised this in previous unsuccessful proceedings, relying instead on habitual residence and/or Article 10. Had this been a case about money, Mostyn J said, the failure to advance the parens patriae case first time round would not have been justified and therefore the current case would have stopped for Henderson abuse. However, because this was a case about children, he decided that this should instead be considered as part of the overall discretionary exercise as to whether the jurisdiction should be exercised. He found that the circumstances in this case were not sufficiently compelling to require the court to exercise its protective jurisdiction. The evidence showed that an order for repatriation which sought the assistance of the Libyan authorities would be futile. It did not show there had been a major deterioration in the security situation in Libya since the relocation to Libya, to which the wife had consented, nor since the previous order had been made, such that would justify it being set aside. The mother's application was dismissed. Mostyn J urged the father to allow the mother to have meaningful contact with her children. Judgment, 20/01/2021, free
  • The three-year-old daughter was a British citizen who had lived with the maternal grandmother in India since 2018, after the mother returned to England without her. The father had applied for summary return under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. The mother had applied for a specific issue order for "permission to change jurisdiction of the child", which Mostyn J took to be an application for a declaration that the child was habitually resident in India. A preliminary issue arose regarding whether the court had jurisdiction in the case. Mostyn J found as a fact that the daughter was now habitually resident in India and thus there was no jurisdiction in this case under Brussels II article 8. He also found as a fact that at no time up to 26 August 2020 had the mother unequivocally accepted that the English court had jurisdiction to deal with parental responsibility issues concerning her daughter. In his judgment, it would be wholly unprincipled, and a wrong exercise of the court's powers, for him to make orders on the father's application pursuant to the High Court's inherent powers in circumstances where the father had not established jurisdiction under either Brussels II or sections 1–3 of the Family Law Act 1986. His judgment was that the jurisdiction of the court depended on the territorial reach of Brussels II article 10. A question was referred to the Court of Justice for an urgent preliminary ruling: "Does Article 10 of Brussels 2 retain jurisdiction, without limit of time, in a member state if a child habitually resident in that member state was wrongfully removed to (or retained in) a non-member state where she, following such removal (or retention), in due course became habitually resident?" Pending receipt of the answer to the question the proceedings would be stayed. Judgment, 09/11/2020, free
  • The father applied under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court for an order for the summary return of four children, aged 1, 9, 13 and 14, to the jurisdiction of Pakistan. The mother opposed the application. Both parents and all four children were Pakistani nationals, but the three oldest children had UK passports. The mother alleged domestic abuse, as did the three oldest children. The father alleged a scheme to marry the children off for immigration purposes. MacDonald J found that the father had at times been an arrogant witness, pre-occupied with the impact of the case on his reputation, and dishonest in his evidence. He found that the mother had also been "economical with the truth". The children had been habitually resident in Pakistan at the time of their removal, but a welfare case against their summary return was made out. Returning them, against their wishes, would not be in their best interests. The father's application was dismissed, and a stay on the mother's Children Act 1989 proceedings was lifted. Judgment, 24/07/2020, free
  • An appeal against an order that a thirteen-year-old child, a British national born in England but living in Algeria since 2008, should be brought to England so that an assessment could be made "in a place of safety" as to her best interests and living arrangements. The child had originally been taken to Algeria by both parents, the local authority having been about to initiate care proceedings. The mother now lived in England, and had raised concerns regarding forced marriage. Consular staff in Algeria had undertaken a welfare check with the daughter, and an FCO social work adviser, specialising in child safeguarding, had agreed with their assessment that the visit did not raise concerns about the daughter's health or welfare. In Moylan LJ's view, the substantive threshold required to justify the exercise of the inherent nationality jurisdiction was not crossed in this case; the circumstances did not require the court to act to protect the daughter. The judge's order had also conflicted with the limitations on the court's powers imposed by the Family Law Act 1986, and the judge had not been able to properly determine that his order was one which accorded with the daughter's welfare needs. Baker LJ and Henderson LJ agreed. The appeal had to be allowed, the judge's order set aside, and the proceedings dismissed. Judgment, 23/07/2020, free
  • The mother appealed against an order for the summary return of her child to Israel. Moylan LJ held that the judge had properly taken into account the protective measures in place and had reached a determination that was open to him. However, what had happened in this case did not amount to a retention within the scope of the 1980 Hague Convention, so the judge's order would be replaced by one made under the inherent jurisdiction. Flaux LJ and Haddon-Cave LJ agreed, and the appeal was dismissed save for that change. Judgment, 08/10/2019, free

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