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Summary Return

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  • The daughter and both parents were British citizens. The mother had returned to England with the daughter, telling the father that it was for a short break. The father sought the daughter's summary return to Lanzarote in Spain, where he lived. The mother opposed the application on the grounds that the child objected to returning to Lanzarote, and that there was a grave risk that a return would, as per Article 13(b) of the 1980 Hague Convention, cause physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation. The CAFCASS Officer told the court that the child was very firm in her view that she would not wish to return to Lanzarote without her mother. Mr David Rees QC found that the child was objecting in Hague Convention terms to the return, and he was satisfied that he should exercise the discretion not to return her. Also, if the child returned alone, the father would not be in a position to both support her financially and provide care for her, and thus the objection under Article 13(b) was also made out. The application was dismissed and the child would remain in England and Wales. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free
  • A four-year-old girl with British citizenship had been taken to Egypt, and the court had to determine whether she had been habitually resident in England and Wales before then and thus wrongfully removed, and, if she had not, whether the court had jurisdiction to order her summary return. The father contended that the removal was pursuant to the terms of an order made in Beirut. Both parents were Lebanese nationals, and both were currently in England, the child having been left with family members of the father. The mother had accused the father of domestic violence. MacDonald J was satisfied that the child had been habitually resident in this jurisdiction, and that the court retained jurisdiction under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. The daughter was a British citizen and both parents were here and intended to remain here, making this the appropriate forum for determining the welfare issues. Returning the daughter from Egypt would create the best chance of her resuming contact with her mother, and there was no one in Egypt with parental responsibility for her. She should be returned from Egypt. The existence of the Beirut order did not prevent this. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free
  • A father's application under the Hague Convention and Brussels II Revised for the summary return of his four-year-old daughter to Spain. The mother argued that the father had acquiesced to the removal and that the child would be at grave risk upon returning, due to the alleged domestic violence which had precipated the move to England. The parents were both British citizens who had moved to Spain as children. To Lieven J it seemed obvious from the father's texts that he fully understood that it was the mother's intention to stay in England with the child, and at no stage did he suggest he was seeking for the daughter to live permanently in Spain. This was a case such as those described in Re H (Abduction: Acquiescence) [1997] 1 FLR 872, where "the wronged parent, knowing of his rights, has so conducted himself vis-à-vis the other parent and the children that he cannot be heard to go back on what he has done and seek to persuade the judge that, all along, he has secretly intended to claim the summary return of the children". As to grave risk, Lieven J held that it would be totally irresponsible to return a young child in circumstances where there were very serious and credible allegations of domestic violence against the father, including that he assaulted the mother when she was pregnant. To do so would put the daughter in an intolerable situation and present a grave risk to her of significant psychological harm. The father's application was rejected. Judgment, 09/03/2020, free
  • An application for the summary return to Zambia of two children of British nationality, brought to England by their South African mother. Zambia had signed the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, but had not been accepted by the United Kingdom as a reciprocating party, and so this was instead decided under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. Before the abduction, one child had made allegations of sexual abuse against the father, but unsupervised overnight contact had been required to continue. With this in mind, Holman J was not satisfied that returning the children to Zambia was in their best interests, not without much fuller inquiry and fact finding. The mother had stated that she would not return to Zambia, and the court could not risk the potentially disastrous outcome of the children being returned to an unprotected situation without her. The application was dismissed. Judgment, 12/02/2020, free
  • The father applied for the summary return of the daughter to Malta, pursuant to the Hague Convention 1980. The defence raised by the mother was that the child was not habitually resident there. The child was 21 months old and had lived initially and mostly in England, but had also spent time in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Malta and France. None of the contemporaneous correspondence between the parents illustrated a desire on the part of the father for the daughter to return to Malta, held Mr Teertha Gupta QC, sitting as a High Court judge. The child's habitual residence was always in England because she moved too often to be integrated anywhere else. Any proceedings concerning her would need to be in the Family Court in England. Judgment, 02/12/2019, free

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