How the Courts in the UK are dealing with Care Proceedings involving Children and Families from Eastern Europe.

–          Re E (A Child) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam)

Guidance has been provided by the higher courts dealing with care proceedings involving children and families from other jurisdictions. The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby has clarified the English Courts’ powers in respect of European children who are present in this country and at risk of ‘significant harm’. Sir James Munby commented on the sharp rise in care proceedings involving children from other European Countries. There has been much criticism that the Courts in England and Wales are unreasonable in their exercise of the care jurisdiction.

The main question to ask here is, in the event that children and families have experienced significant deprivation in their country of origin or have come from a very different cultural background to the norm in the UK, how does the jurisdiction in the UK Courts deal with these issues?  The Judgment In Re E (A Child) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam) set out guidance to practitioners and the Courts in light of these issues and can be found under the following;

(a) Brussels II revised [BIIR] which states that the English Courts generally have jurisdiction in a care case involving a  child only if either (i) the child is habitually resident in England and Wales (Article 8(1)), or (ii) the habitual residence of a child “present” in England and Wales “cannot be established” (Article 13(1)).

(b) Articles 36 & 37 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963 [the Vienna Convention]; in any care case with a European element, good practice is where the court sets out clearly the basis upon which it had either accepted or rejected jurisdiction and to identify the basis upon which it has proceeded.  J Munby said in Re E (A Child) [2014] EWHC 6 (Fam) that care cases involving foreign nationals must have both “transparency and openness as between the English family courts and the consular and other authorities of the relevant foreign state”.

(c) Reporting restriction orders– Sir James Munby set out in the following cases Re J (A Child) and Re P (A Child) that there should be reporting restriction orders, restricting publication in the English print or broadcast media, or using the English language on the Internet in such a way as to identify ‘E’ (the child). The reporting restriction order does not prevent the mother from publishing whatever she wants in the foreign print or broadcast media or, so long as it is not in the English language.