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Supreme Court has ‘no jurisdiction’ to hear case

The Supreme Court does  not have jurisdiction in a residence dispute concerning a boy born in Eastern Europe, Justices have declared.

The child in question was born in Romania in 2006. His parents, both Romanian nationals, had met while working in England, and they travelled back here following the birth. But within a year the relationship had broken down and the couple went their separate ways. Since then, the child, referred to as ‘DD’, has lived with his mother.

The father returned to Romania but maintained a close relationship with his son. Back in his home country, he launched divorce proceedings and applied for primary care of DD. He was eventually granted a ruling his favour by a court in Bucharest that the boy should come and live with him but not until November 2013, after lengthy delays.

The father then applied to the English courts for the Romanian residence order to be recognised and enforced over here. But he was refused, on the grounds of Brussels II Bis (or ‘Revised’), an EU regulation which defines jurisdiction in international disputes. Section 23(b) states that a judgement issued in another member state should not be recognised “if it was given, except in a case of urgency, without the child having been given an opportunity to be heard…”.

The Romanian court had not made any attempt to ascertain DD’s wishes or view of the dispute. The father pursued his case to the Court of Appeal but lost – and has now lost again at the Supreme Court.

Brussels II is supposed to operate in a speedy and fundamentally administrative way, the Supreme Court explained, with only one level of appeal available in England and Wales. This restriction was intended to encourage recognition of rulings made in other member states without excessive challenge.

The case in question had already been considered by the Court of Appeal. Delivering the ruling, Lady Justice Hale declared:

“I am therefore satisfied that the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has no jurisdiction to entertain an appeal in this case. The appeal which has been lodged should therefore be struck out.”

Read In the Matter of D (A Child) here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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