International Family Law Jurisdiction Case

We have ample experience in working on international family law cases. This area of law is complex and requires experience and understanding to get the best possible outcome for a client.

There are many legal cases disputing the residence of a child, involving the country in which they were born and the country that a parent wishes for them to live in.

Jurisdiction Case: R v H

Such a case occurred where family law barrister at St Pauls Chambers, Denise Breen-Lawton, represented the Father in a jurisdiction case, whereby the child had been born in Pakistan and never set foot in the United Kingdom. However, the Mother had made an application to the High Court for the ‘return of the child’ to the UK, trying to persuade the court to assume jurisdiction over the child.

The Mother had given birth to the child in Pakistan and had come over to the UK, but left the chid in Pakistan with grandparents and extended family. The Mother then alleged domestic violence and threats to her life if she should return to Pakistan to see the child.

The hearing took place in the High Court before Mr Justice Moylan. The chid was a British National and a British passport had been obtained for him.

Barrister Denise Breen-Lawton applied to the Legal Aid Agency for a QC to assist in the case as it was so legally complicated. This was successful and Simon Bickler QC came into the case. They disputed the jurisdiction, arguing that the courts in this country had no jurisdiction over the child and could not order his ‘return’ to the United Kingdom. Within the case, the following had to be considered:

  • Wardship
  • All of the case law in this area
  • The UK-Pakistan Protocol
  • The Family Law Act 1996
  • The Family Law Act 1996
  • The principles of Habitual Residence – where a child is ordinarily resident
The Issue With this International Family Law Case

The issue of whether the child was ‘habitually resident’ was the key consideration in this case. The Mother tried to argue that dire and exceptional circumstances existed in trying to persuade the High Court that it has jurisdiction in this case.

In the end, the Judge decided that the Mother could easily have returned to Pakistan to see her child. The Judge did not accept the contention that Mother would not be able to access the assistance of the Pakistan Courts. St Pauls therefore won on behalf of the Father.

The Mother attempted to persuade the Court of Appeal to give her permission to appeal, but this was refused.

What Should You Do With Your International Family Law Case?

If you have a similar international family law case, or similar issues, we can help you. If court proceedings commence and you are asked whether you accept the jurisdiction of the Courts in the United Kingdom, say that you do not. Then, seek legal advice as quickly as possible.

Our family law barristers can advise you on the law. Each case is different but there are important principles that have been established by previous cases that have come before the Court of Appeal.

If you qualify for legal aid, we can help you to find a specialist solicitor. We can also consider whether your case qualifies for the assistance of a QC, like with the case mentioned above, and can make an application for you. Whatever the problem, we can research the case law and give you advice either in person or in writing.

Whatever your jurisdiction problem, contact Senior clerk Jayne Drake.

Related people

Denise Breen-Lawton

Denise Breen-Lawton KC

Joint Head of Chambers

Call: 2000 Silk: 2024

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Chambers is centrally located within walking distance of the train station, secure car parks and the Courts.

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St Pauls Chambers
Park Row House
19-20 Park Row

For out of hours assistance please call the senior clerk on 07854170429.

The switchboard will open from 08:30 until 17:30

Phone: +44 (0)1132 455 866
Email: [email protected]
CJSM: [email protected]

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