Idnan Deen acted as the Lead Solicitor in this appeal against refusal of an application made by a mother pursuant to the Hague Convention 1980 and Brussels IIR for the summary return of her son to Hungary. Determining that the child’s objections must be clear and valid and ambiguous evidence from CAFCASS would not be sufficient. Appeal allowed and matter remitted for re-hearing.
This was the mother’s appeal against the court’s decision to refuse an application pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1989 (the Hague Convention) and Council Regulation (EC) 2001/2003 Brussels II (R) for the summary return of K (aged 14) to Hungary.
K had resided with his father since the age of 4. He was retained unlawfully in the UK when his father decided to remain in the UK permanently in order to work. The judge below exercised her discretion not to order K’s summary return on the basis of the “child objection” defence.
K had been very upset when he was interviewed through an interpreter by the High Court’s CAFCASS officer. Her evidence was that “…I have not said he objected to a return. I have described his distress and my interpretation of that distress”. It was clear that K did not know whether, if he was to return to Hungary, his father would return with him. It was clear that K wanted to remain in the care of his father.
The appeal was allowed. There was insufficient material to allow K’s stated preference to be with his father in England to be translated into an Article 13 objection to be returned to Hungary. This could not be inferred from the totality of the interview in circumstances where it was unclear to K whether such a return would mean separation from his father.
K’s views had not been heard on the key issue, so the Appeal Court was in no better position to be able to decide whether the “child objection” defence was established. The case was therefore remitted to the Family Division for urgent directions.