The father of an eight year-old has failed in his bid to have a child abduction judgement dismissed by the court.
In ET v TZ, a couple had been living in the UK but then moved back to Poland and separated. The father had contact with (saw) his son regularly, but then, on one occasion, took his son away without the mother’s consent and travelled back to England.
Back in Poland, the mother launched proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a multinational treaty governing the return of children taken from one country into another. Her application was granted and the court issued a warrant for the child’s return. It also removed the father’s parental responsibility (legal rights as a parent).
The boy’s mother then launched proceedings in the English courts. She applied for the Polish court order to be enforced in the country, under Brussels II Revised, an EU regulation governing jurisdiction in family law cases involving more than one country. She also applied for emergency maintenance payments.
The father, meanwhile, argued that the Polish court judgement removing his parental responsibility should not be recognised, under Article 23 of Brussels II Revised. Sections a) and b) of Article 23 state:
“A judgment relating to parental responsibility shall not be recognised:
(a) if such recognition is manifestly contrary to the public policy of the Member State in which recognition is sought taking into account the best interests of the child;
(b) if it was given, except in case of urgency, without the child having been given an opportunity to be heard, in violation of fundamental principles of procedure of the Member State in which recognition is sought.”
But Family Division judge Mr Justice Roderic Wood said those sections applied only to very exceptional circumstances, and the man’s case did not qualify. He ordered enforcement of the Polish court order.