Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the United Kingdom: A Full Bench of Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Kitchin and Lord Sales upheld the appeal of the mother to retain her child in London and set aside the Court of Appeal’s order.

The mother and father were Israeli nationals who moved to London after marriage, with their daughter. Their marriage broke down shortly after the said moving. The father intended to go back to Israel and he insisted that the mother along with the child should also return there. However, the mother proposed to stay back in London.

The father applied for a summary order for the return of his young daughter from England to Israel under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, set out in Schedule I to the Child Abduction and Custody Act, 1985. After the High Court and the Court of Appeal both ruled against the mother, she appealed in the Supreme Court.

The issue was whether the Court of Appeal was entitled to make the summary order for the child’s return to Israel under the inherent jurisdiction and if so, whether it had exercised the said jurisdiction correctly. The Court accepted the mother’s argument that the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in the making of such an order. The mother contested the order on several grounds claiming that the father had given a relevant consent to the retention of the child in London and there was a grave risk that a return to Israel would expose the child to physical or psychological harm, pursuant to articles 13(a) and 13(b) of the Convention respectively.

The Court found the exercise of the inherent jurisdiction by the Court of Appeal flawed. The Court of Appeal did not conduct an inquiry into whether the welfare of the child required her to be the subject of a summary order for the return to Israel.

In view of the above, the Court set aside the Court of Appeal’s order and allowed the mother to retain her child in England for the child’s welfare.[NY (A Child), In Re.; [2019] 3 WLR 962; decided on 30-10-2019]