Parentnapping by children of their vulnerable father: The Court of Protection in QD on the Hague Convention and habitual residence.

IN [2019] EWCOP 56 QD, Cobb J in the Court of Protection applied the Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults to a removal from Spain by the children of his first marriage, of an adult father suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, a progressive neurodegenerative dementia, without consent of the new wife. Following the removal the children seek an order that he reside at a care home in England, that he not return to Spain, and that he have only supervised contact with his wife.

Cobb J decided that the English courts do not have jurisdiction given that in his judgment the father is habitually resident in Spain, with at 28-29 a list of the reasons leading to his conclusion (it includes a negative view on the removal ‘by stealth’, as well as particular emphasis on the father’s expressed will to live in Spain when he was not yet incapacitated). The common law doctrine of necessity does not alter this as alternative, less drastic measures could and should have been sought first (such as alerting Spanish social services; at 29).

The judge did make use of his limited urgency jurisdiction to issue a ‘protective measures’ order which provides for the father to remain at and be cared for at home he resides in, and to continue the authorisation of the deprivation of his liberty there only until such time as the national authorities in Spain have determined what should happen next. It is for the Spanish administrative or judicial authorities to determine the next step, which may of course be to confer jurisdiction on the English courts to make the relevant decision(s).



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