The Supreme Court will rule next week whether two children born in England to Hungarian parents should be adopted in England without the consent of the parents or whether the care proceedings should be transferred to Hungary.
The issue in the case of In the matter of N (Children) UKSC 2016/0013 concerned the applicability of Article 15 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 ('Brussels IIa') to applications for care orders and the proper approach to the assessment of the children’s best interests on applications for transfer of the proceedings.
The London Borough of Hounslow had applied for care and placement orders in relation to the children. The children were living together with foster parents in England.
The local authority’s final care plan was for the children to be adopted in England, without the consent of the parents.
However, the mother applied for the transfer of the care proceedings to Hungary pursuant to Article 15 Brussels IIa. Her application was supported by the father and the Hungarian Central Authority, which indicated that social care professionals would collect the children from England and place them in a new foster home in Hungary.
The judge made an order for the transfer of the proceedings to Hungary. The Court of Appeal subsequently held that the English court does have jurisdiction to make an adoption order in relation to a child who is a foreign national without the consent of his parent, but that care proceedings were within the scope of Brussels IIa and the judge had been justified in making the order for transfer.
The Children’s Guardian appealed to the Supreme Court. The AIRE Centre, Family Rights Group and the International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice intervened.
The case was heard on 17 March by a five-judge panel comprising Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson and Lord Carnwath. Their ruling will be handed down on 13 April.