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/ 13 Apr 2016

Groundbreaking child care case in Supreme Court

Judgment was handed down today in the UK Supreme Court in an important case in which Hanne & Co represented two little girls through their Cafcass Guardian. The successful appeal concerned where decisions should be made in care proceedings with a European dimension.

In Re N (Children) [2016] UKSC 15 the Supreme Court unanimously set aside a request to transfer care proceedings to Hungary, instead directing that they be determined by a Judge of the Family Division of the High Court. Lady Hale gave the only judgment. It offers some important guidance for determining the factors a court must consider when asked to transfer a case to another European state, especially where it is possible that a local authority will bring forward a plan to adopt a child without the agreement of the parents. There are many European countries where this would not be permitted but English courts may exercise this power where the welfare of the child requires it and where, in a much-quoted phrase, ‘nothing else will do’.

The court disapproved the use of what had come to be called an ‘attenuated’ welfare test, stressing that the impact of a move of the case to a different state must consider the effect on the welfare of a child of any such move – in this case including the impact on two young children of being moved from a home where they were happy and settled. The choices available to the court deciding the eventual outcome must also be considered.

This is a progressive decision for the rights of children the subject of care proceedings where there are cross-border questions and the child care team at Hanne & Co is proud to have been involved. The judgment is available by clicking here and a press summary by clicking here.

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