Central Authority v. H. 2008 (1) SA 49 (SCA)

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The application related to a boy born in May 2002 to a Dutch father and a South African mother. The parents were married and shared equal custody rights in respect of the child.
In September 2003 the mother took the child to South Africa with the consent of the father. The parents subsequently presented different views as to the purpose of this trip. For the father it was intended to be an extended vacation of three month’s duration, for the mother it was the first step in a planned emigration, with the father rejoining the family once affairs were wound up in the Netherlands.
In January 2004 the mother informed the father that she would not be returning. In February 2004 the father contacted the Dutch Central Authority and proceedings were issued in the Pretoria High Court in June. On 14 June 2005 the High Court ordered that the child be returned. However, the order specified that this was for the purpose of attending a custody hearing and if the latter was postponed the child could return to South Africa.
On 27 September the Haarlem District Court held that it did not have jurisdiction to deal with the parents’ separate applications concerning the custody of the child. On 28 September the mother was refused leave to appeal to the Full Court of the High Court.
On 23 February 2006 the South African Supreme Court of Appeal granted the mother leave to appeal, subject to an appeal against the Haarlem District Court succeeding. On 23 March the Amsterdam Court of Appeal struck out the judgment of the District Court, which led to the South African appeal proceeding. On 17 May 2007 the Supreme Court of Appeal heard the mother’s appeal.