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  • REUNITE NOTES.DOC

    HAGUEANDNONHAGUECONVENTIONABDUCTIONSNOTESFORREUNITEWEBSITEONHAGUECONVENTIONLAWASAT20THOCTOBER2009

    DuncanRanton

    A. TheLegalFramework

    B. Wrongfulremovalsandretentions

    C. RightsofCustody

    D. ConventionDefences

    E. TheJudicialDiscretion

    F. NonHagueConventionCases

    G. Sequestration

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    A. THELEGALFRAMEWORK

    EssentialReading

    ChildAbductionandCustodyAct1985(PartIandSchedule1)

    CouncilRegulation(EC)No.2201/2003of27November2003concerningjurisdictionandthe

    recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of

    parentalresponsibility,repealingRegulation(EC)No.1347/2000(BIIr),Articles10and11)

    1. Definition

    Inthiscontext,abductionmeanstheremovalorretentionofachildbyaparent,guardian

    or familymemberwithout the consent of theother personor peoplewho are entitled to

    participate indecisionsabout thatchilds futureandupbringing. Theparadigmabduction

    hasshiftedradicallyoverthepasttwentyyears.

    2. TheHagueConvention

    TheHagueConferenceon Private International Lawwas formed in 1893 to work for the

    progressiveunificationoftherulesofprivateinternationallaw.Thisitdoesbycreatingand

    assisting in the implementation of multilateral treaties promoting the harmonisation of

    conflictoflawsprinciplesindiversesubjectmatterswithinprivateinternationallaw.

    One such treaty is the 1980 Hague Convention in the Civil Aspects of International Child

    Abduction(theAbductionConvention).

    The Abduction Convention is perhaps the best known treaty emanating from the Hague

    Conference,andworldwide is thebest knownof thevariousarrangements regulating the

    crossbordermovementofchildren.

    Asat26August2009,eightyoneContractingStateshadsigned,ratifiedoraccededtothe

    HagueConvention.

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    TheUnitedKingdomofGreatBritainandNorthern IrelandsignedtheHagueConventionin

    November 1984. It was incorporated into our domestic law by the Child Abduction and

    CustodyAct1985(Schedule1).TheConventionenteredintoforceon1August1986.

    Article3oftheHagueConventionidentifieswhatanapplicantmustdemonstratetolaunch

    anapplication:

    Article3

    Theremovalortheretentionofachildistobeconsideredwrongfulwhere

    (a) it is inbreachof rightsof custodyattributed toaperson,an institutionor

    anyotherbody,either jointlyoralone,underthe lawoftheState inwhich

    the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or

    retention;and

    (b) at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised,

    eitherjointlyoralone,orwouldhavebeensoexercisedbutfortheremoval

    orretention.

    Therightsofcustodymentionedinsubparagraph(a)above,mayarise inparticular

    byoperationoflaworbyreasonofajudicialoradministrativedecision,orbyreason

    ofanagreementhavinglegaleffectunderthelawofthatState.

    Article3mustbereadinconjunctionwithArticles4and5.Theformer identifiestowhom

    the Hague Convention applies. The latter assists in defining rights of custody for the

    purposesoftheConventionsoperation:

    Article4

    TheConventionshallapplytoanychildwhowashabituallyresidentinaContracting

    State immediately before any breach of custody or access rights. The Convention

    shallceasetoapplywhenthechildattainstheageofsixteenyears.

    Article5

    ForthepurposesofthisConvention

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    (a) rightsofcustodyshall include rights relatingtothecareofthepersonof

    the child and, in particular, the right to determine the childs place of

    residence;

    (b) rightsofaccessshallincludetherighttotakeachildforalimitedperiodof

    timetoaplaceotherthanthechildshabitualresidence.

    3. TheEuropeanCustodyConvention

    Prior to theentry into force ofCouncil Regulation (EC)No.1347/2000of29May2000on

    jurisdictionandtherecognitionandenforcementof judgments inmatrimonialmattersand

    the matters of parental responsibility (BII), another treaty operated intraEurope in

    respectofcustodyandabductionissues.

    ThiswastheEuropeanConventiononRecognitionandEnforcementofDecisionsconcerning

    CustodyofChildrenandonRestorationofCustodyofChildrensignedinLuxembourgon20

    May1980(theEuropeanCustodyConvention).

    The European Custody Convention sought to address improper removals between

    ContractingStates,aswellasprovidingamechanismbywhichaccessandcustodydecisions

    couldberecognisedtransnationally.

    TheConventionisobsoletewithintheBIIrMembership.Itstillhasapplication,however, in

    relationtojurisdictionsthatarenotpartofthatMembership,namelythefollowing:Bosnia

    and Herzegovina, Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Norway,

    Serbia/Montenegro,SwitzerlandandTurkey.

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was one of the original six

    signatoriestotheEuropeanCustodyConventioninMay1980.Itwasincorporatedintoour

    domesticlawbytheChildAbductionandCustodyAct1985(Schedule2).

    The European CustodyConventionwas never an especially wellused instrument, and the

    numberofapplicationsmadeunder it(evenpriortoBII)wassmall. TheintroductionofBII

    andsubsequentlyBIIrmakesitoflessrelevancestill.

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    4. BIIr

    BIIr is not directly concerned with questions of child abduction, but some Articles

    supplement(asopposedtosupplant)provisionsoftheHagueConventioninabductioncases

    involvingtwoEUMemberStates.

    Article10 isconcernedwithattributingjurisdictiontoMemberStatesfollowingawrongful

    removal or retention, and will be considered in the context of examining the concept of

    habitualresidence.

    Article 11 introducessomemodificationofprocedureandsubstancewhereachildwho is

    habitually resident in oneMember State is wrongfully removed to or retained in another

    Member State. We will return to Article 11 below, when looking at defences to Hague

    Conventionapplications.

    5. TheSupremeCourtAct1981

    The Supreme Court Act is usually invoked in abduction cases that are not coveredby any

    othertreatyorconvention.Thiswouldbethecase,forexample, iftherewerenotreaty in

    existencebetweenthetwojurisdictionsconcerned.Italsoariseswherethereisatreaty,but

    wheretheleftbehindparentisunabletobringhimorherselfwithinitsterms.

    TherelevantsectionsoftheSupremeCourtActaresections19and41,theformerbecause

    itpreserves theHighCourts inherent jurisdictionas a superiorcourtof lawand the latter

    becauseitmakesspecificreferencetotheprocedureformakingchildrenWardsofcourt.

    Wardship is a status imposedby theHighCourt in the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction

    relatingtochildrenand incapacitatedadults. It isbasedupon theconceptofallegianceto

    the Crown, and the corresponding duty of the Crown to ensure that the vulnerable are

    protected. For practical purposes, it involves reposing in the court rights of

    custody/parental responsibility in respect of the child who is a Ward. No significant

    decisionsmaythenbetakeninrespectofthatchildwithoutthecourtsapproval.

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    6. TheChildAbductionAct1984

    The Child Abduction Act 1984 criminalised certain removals of a child from the United

    Kingdom.

    Achildforthesepurposesisundersixteen.

    Section1makes itacriminaloffenceforapersonconnectedwithachildtotakeorsend

    himoutoftheUnitedKingdomwithouttheappropriateconsents.

    Section2criminalisesthetakingordetainingofachildbyaperson,withoutlawfulauthority

    orreasonableexcuse,soastoremovehimfromorkeephimfromthelawfulcontrolofany

    personhavinglawfulcontrolofthechild.

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    B. WrongfulRemovalsandRetentions

    EssentialReading

    ChildAbductionandCustodyAct1985(Schedule1,Article3and15)

    ReH;ReS(Abduction:CustodyRights)[1991]2AC476;[1991]3AllER230

    1. WrongfulRemovalversusWrongfulRetention

    As we have seen already, Article 3 of the Abduction Convention confirms that either a

    removaloraretentionmay,ifwrongful,beactionableundertheConvention.

    Aremovalorretentioniswrongfulifitisinbreachoftherightsofcustodythatsomeperson

    orinstitutionhasinrespectoftheparticularchild.Moreonrightsofcustodylater.

    Additionally, theauthorities tellsus thata removalor retentionmaybewrongful if it is in

    breach of a court order (Re E (Abduction: Rights of Custody) [2005] 2 FLR 759 or of an

    implicit prohibitionon removal establishedby case law (C v C (Minors)(ChildAbduction)

    [1992]1FLR163).

    ReH;ReS(Abduction:CustodyRights)[1991]2AC476;[1991]2FLR262istheseminalcase

    on thedistinction for Abduction Conventionpurposes between awrongful removal and a

    wrongfulretention. ThespeechofLordBrandonisauthorityforthefollowingpropositions

    inrelationtotheseconcepts:

    (a) to be actionable under the Convention, the wrongful removal or retention must

    involve and be across an international border a wrongful removal or retention

    within thecountry inwhich thechild ishabitually resident isnot capableofbeing

    remediedbyreferencetotheAbductionConvention;

    (b) awrongful retention occurs on a specific occasion it is not an ongoing state of

    affairs;

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    (c) wrongful removal and wrongful retention are mutually exclusive concepts. One

    cannothavebothwrongfullyremovedandbewrongfullyretainingthesamesubject

    childatthesametime.

    Notethatitispossibleforawrongfulremovalandawrongfulretentiontooccuronthefacts

    in relation to the same child at different times (see Re S (Custody: Habitual Residence]

    [1998]AC750perLordSlynnat

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