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  • 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 eleven-year-old son was born in Italy and was an Italian national, as was the mother. The father had brought the son to England; the mother sought his summary return. The father asked the court to exercise its discretion to refuse to so order on the basis of the exceptions under Article 13(a) (asserting that the mother had not been exercising her rights of custody at the relevant time) and Article 13(2) (asserting that the son objected to returning to Italy and had attained an age and degree of maturity at which it was appropriate to take account of his views). Mr Richard Harrison QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, thought it was clear that the mother had actually been exercising her rights of custody. He also found that while the son had attained the requisite age and degree of maturity and genuinely objected to returning, those objections were the product of significant influence on the part of the father, who had previously recruited the child as a co-conspirator in the wrongful removal. The child's views would not be decisive of the outcome. Welfare considerations led him instead to order the child's return to Italy, albeit not until the half-term holidays. Judgment, 26/10/2020, free
  • A third set of child abduction proceedings brought by the father pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention in respect of the same two children, a boy aged 9 and a girl aged 6. The children had been born in England, and the family had moved to Morocco in 2016. The mother had brought the children back to England while the father served a prison sentence for adultery, a criminal offence in Morocco. The return of the children to Morocco had twice previously been ordered, but each time the mother had brought them back to England. Francis J found that the children had been habitually resident in Morocco at the time of the most recent removal to England. He found that the views of the children had been "poisoned", and thus would not make any difference to his decision, which was for the children to be returned to Morocco. The mother was ordered to pay the father's costs on the indemnity basis. The judgment was not anonymised, in the hope that publicity would prevent a fourth abduction. Judgment, 28/09/2020, free
  • An application by the father for the summary return of his two twin children to Croatia, pursuant to the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention and Brussels IIa. The children were in England with their mother, living with her parents. The father had previously retained the children in Croatia without her consent, leading to the end of the couple's relationship, but the children had been found by the Croatian court to be habitually resident there. She accepted that the children had then been brought to England without the father's consent, but with reference to Article 13(b) claimed that the children were likely to suffer distress if required to return to Croatia without her. In the view of Mr David Lock QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, the evidence did not suggest that there was a grave risk of psychological distress sufficiently serious for Article 13(b) to apply. He made an order requiring the return of the children forthwith to Croatia. Judgment, 25/09/2020, free
  • The mother applied for costs, arguing that the father had acted unreasonably in only conceding the application for summary return at lunchtime on the first day of a three-day hearing. The father's representative pointed out that in a matter such as this, costs did not automatically follow the event and the court had a broad discretion. In Lieven J's view, if either party had been prepared to act more reasonably and take a more consensual approach, costs and court time could have been saved, but it would not be appropriate to depart from the general approach that in family proceedings involving children no order for costs is generally made. Judgment, 29/07/2020, free

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