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Article 15 requests under Brussels IIR must be considered as early as possible

Pauffley J reminds practitioners of the urgency of addressing jurisdictional issues

Mrs Justice Pauffley has reminded practitioners that in every case where there is an Article 15 request under Brussels II Revised 'it must be overwhelmingly more efficient and accord with the welfare interests of children' for the issue to be determined during the initial stages of proceedings.

Re J (A Child: Brussels II Revised: Art 15 - Practice and Procedure) [2014] EWFC 41 involved care proceedings concerning a child, J, who was born in England. Her parents are Hungarian nationals and she has three siblings living in Hungary. In 2013, the mother was assisted to return to Hungary following child protection concerns. On her arrival there, J's two younger siblings were removed from her and placed in the care of Hungarian social services. The mother returned to the UK whilst pregnant with J and came to the attention of three local authorities during her pregnancy. The child's father returned to Hungary at a time when he was engaged in a parenting assessment. J had been in the care of her mother since birth in mother and baby placements.

Her Ladyship had stated:

"In every care case with a European dimension, the judge must consider whether to exercise her powers under Article 15 of Brussels II Revised (BIIR) to request the court of another Member State to assume jurisdiction where (a) the child has a particular connection (as defined in Article 15(3)) with that other State, (b) the other court would be better placed to hear the case, and (c) this is in the best interests of the child: see In the matter of E (A Child) [2014] EWHC 6  at para 31."

The relevant procedural rules including PD12A are summarised at paragraphs 38 to 41 of the judgment. Her Ladyship noted that as the President observed in Nottingham City Council v. LM and others [2014] EWCA Civ 152: "It is … vital …that the Article 15 issue is considered at the earliest opportunity, that is … when the proceedings are issued and at the Case Management Hearing."

In conclusion, Pauffley J stated that it is vital to confront Brussels II Revised jurisdictional issues as early as possible:

"They should be regarded as urgent and requiring of decisions within a matter of days, not weeks. By no stretch of the imagination could it be regarded as acceptable practice to leave the jurisdiction question in 'cold storage' until the final hearing." (Para 45)

For the judgment and case summary by Katy Chokowry of 1 King's Bench Walk, from which this item is derived, please click here.