Family Law Hub

Brussels II Revised

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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
  • 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
  • In wardship proceedings, the mother alleged that she and the children (aged 8, 4 and 3) had been victims of transnational abandonment. This was denied by the father, whose case was that the parties had made a consensual decision to relocate as family to Pakistan. He contended that the courts of England and Wales did not have jurisdiction in respect of the children; alternatively, that they should not exercise any jurisdiction because welfare decisions could more conveniently be made in Pakistan. Circumstances meant that the case had to be adjourned, but Mr Richard Harrison QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, considered the situation as it stood to be one in which the children were likely to be suffering from emotional harm. It was not tolerable for them to continue to be separated from their parents. It was clear to him that the essence of the mother's case was likely to be correct. The removal of the children to Pakistan had been procured on the basis of a deception, and was thus in breach of the mother's rights of custody, and a wrongful removal for the purposes of Article 10 of Brussels IIa. Having been the primary carer throughout the children's lives, the mother was the person best placed to meet the children's emotional needs. He ordered their immediate return to this jurisdiction. Judgment, 25/09/2020, free
  • An application by the father for the summary return of the daughter to Slovakia. The mother resisted summary return on the grounds that the daughter was settled in the United Kingdom, that the father had acquiesced in her removal, that the defence of intolerability under Article 13(b) applied, and that the father had not exercised rights of custody (the latter ground being dropped in the course of the hearing). The parents had not been married to each other. The father had last seen the child in January 2017, when the mother broke all contact with him. She moved to the United Kingdom in September 2017, in order, she told the court, to escape the father's intimidation of her. The father took no action to re-establish contact between January 2017 and January 2019, when he contacted his Slovakian lawyer. Lieven J had no doubt that the child was settled in England and Wales within the terms of the law and the Hague Convention, and happy here. She would not exercise her discretion to return the daughter; it would not be in her interests to return. Contact was a matter that could be properly considered by the English courts. Judgment, 24/09/2020, free
  • The father sought an order requiring the return of his daughter to the Czech Republic pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention. After moving out, the mother had told him that they were living in the Czech Republic, and he had then discovered from her sister that they were actually living in England. Divorce proceedings had been initiated but not completed. The mother acted in person, with the help of a non-professional translator. Her belief was that the child would be subject to anti-Roma racism if returned to the Czech Republic. The court was required to determine: (a) whether the child was habitually resident in the Czech Republic prior to her removal to England in 2018, so as to engage the powers and obligations conferred by the 1980 Convention; and (b) if the 1980 Convention was engaged, whether the mother, who opposed the return of the child to the Czech Republic, could establish that such a return would give rise to a situation described in article 13(b) of the 1980 Convention. HHJ Hillier found that the daughter was habitually resident in the Czech Republic. No risks raised by the mother in respect of article 13(b) reached a level of seriousness as to be anywhere near to "grave". HHJ Hillier's discretion as to whether to return the child had not been engaged by a potential defence under article 13(b), but even if it had been, she would have exercised her discretion firmly in respect of return so that the child would be placed in the Czech Republic whilst her future welfare was determined. Judgment, 07/07/2020, free

Latest know-how

  • In a tweet: Wife fails to establish divorce jurisdiction in England and Wales. Case note, 16/10/2019, members only
  • In a tweet: Article 19 BIIR: court best placed to decide which court is first seised should determine the issue. Case note, 02/10/2019, members only
  • Florence Jones, Pupil, 1 Hare Court, writes a case summary of Pierburg v Pierburg [2019] EWFC 24. Case note, 26/04/2019, members only
  • In brief: A preliminary ruling from the ECJ determined that in order to establish habitual residence under Article 8 BIIR, a child must be physically present in the member state. The circumstances of the child being physically present elsewhere are irrelevant. This was a referral from the English High Court where the father ("F") had allegedly coerced the mother ("M") into remaining in Bangladesh with the child, potentially in breach of their ECHR rights. Case note, 17/12/2018, members only
  • In a tweet: Habitual residence at time court is seised is key to jurisdiction, not where child will be living Case note, 12/01/2017, members only

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