Local authority B v X: Brussels IIa and (Northern) Cypriot territory.

I currently have a practice interest in all things Cypriot territory hence Local Authority B v X (Mother) & Ors [2020] EWFC 37 caught my eye even more than had it just involved Brussels IIa.

The application concerns a child, T. He is now about 5 years old. He is a British national; both his parents are British nationals. He was born in Kyrenia in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (‘TRNC’), and lived there from his birth in early 2014 until late summer 2018 when he travelled with his mother to the Republic of Cyprus, the southern territory of the island, where he remained until 17 October 2018. On that day, he flew to London, again in the company of his mother. On each occasion on which T and his mother travelled, the mother was the subject of a formal deportation order from the relevant territory of the island of Cyprus. On her arrival in the UK the mother was arrested and taken into custody, where she has remained to date. A police protection order was made in relation to T on his arrival in England, and he was placed into foster care, where he, in turn, has remained.

At issue is whether the Family Court in England can properly exercise jurisdiction in relation to T.  Cobb J notes that the legal issues in the case are complicated by the internal territorial and political division within Cyprus. The UK, in accordance with its obligations under international law, has not recognised, and does not recognise, the TRNC as a state, yet the Republic of Cyprus is a Member State of the EU. Further discussion of the territorial issues at 7 ff include references to Protocol 10 of Cyprus’ accession Treaty, and CJEU C-420/07 Apostolides v Orams. (Itself linked to [2010] EWCA Civ 9).

The ensuing complicated jurisdictional questions are summarised at 33-34, with at 53 a resulting finding of lack of habitual residence of T in England, and an A13 BIIa jurisdiction. The mother, who argues for habitual residence in Cyprus, agues that BIA per CJEU Orams treats the TRNC as part of the Member State of the Republic of Cyprus, and so should BIIa. They further contend that given the many direct similarities between the language and the purpose of the two regulations, Brussels 1 and BIIaOrams provides good authority for the argument that T, habitually resident in the TRNC (outside the Government’s effective control) was nonetheless, at the critical point, subject to the provisions of BIIa. At 68ff, Cobb J disagrees.

An interesting judgment for both BIIa and EU external relations law.

Geert.

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