A (A Child) [2021] EWCA Civ 194

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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Procedural Matters
There was no need to for the child to be joined as a party to proceedings as the CAFCASS officer had appropriate skills to make his voice heard. Furthermore, it was clear that the mother had placed emotional pressure on the child and so his instructions to the legal team may not represent his authentic voice. The court reaffirmed that this was not because the child’s views were not important, but because his views and interests had been very fully provided to the court through the CAFCASS report and the submissions made by the parents.
Interpretation of the Convention
The Court found that it had authority to set aside orders under the 1980 Convention where there had been a fundamental change of circumstances which undermines the basis on which the order was made. The Court noted that the approach to be taken in such cases and the threshold to be applied were not entirely clear, but in this case the change in circumstances was not substantial enough.
Both CAFCASS reports revealed a high level of indecision on the part of the child and his change of opinion must be placed in the context of there being a considerable degree of emotional pressure placed on him by the mother following the original court order.
Author: Matheus Ferreira Gois Fontes and Victoria Stephens