Re M (a child) – Family Law Week case summary

29 July 2020

Appeal by father (F) against order made under inherent jurisdiction that a child (A) aged 13 and a British National, who has been living in Algeria for just over 12 years, should be brought to England so that “an assessment can be made in a place of safety as to her best interests and living arrangements”.

The judgment below is reported as Re A (a child) (Inherent jurisdiction: parens patriae, FMPO and passport orders) [2020] EWHC 451 (fam)

A had been taken to Algeria before her first birthday by both parents when the LA had been about to initiate proceedings.  A was made a ward of court but care proceedings were not pursued and the wardship order was discharged in 2009.  Mother (M) continued to live in England, while F returned to Algeria.  In June 2019 M commenced proceedings applying for a wardship order stating that A was wrongfully retained in Algeria, that she was concerned about her safety and wellbeing and wanted her returned to her (M's) care.  M had evidence of A's sibling complaining about his treatment, and recordings of F that suggested he encouraged physical chastisement and that he engendered fear in his children.

During proceedings, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) where requested to arrange a visit to A.  The consulate reported that A looked well and seemed confident.  The report concluded that the FCO's social work adviser specialised in child safeguarding agreed with consular staff that there were no concerns raised about A's health or welfare.  Expert evidence was obtained on Algerian law which provided detail about protective measures available in Algeria in respect of children as well as welfare proceedings.

Read the full case summary on Family Law Week.