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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

20 APR 2011

JURISDICTION/ ABDUCTION: Mercredi v Chaffe [2011] EWCA Civ 272

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Elias LJJ; 17 March 2011)

An order made by an English court required the unmarried mother to return child from an unknown destination. The mother began proceedings in France. The English judge held that the English court had jurisdiction and made various declarations in father's favour. At issue was whether the English court had jurisdiction to make the orders in respect of the child.

The mother's lawful removal of the child should not have been treated as an abduction. The French court had made a principled welfare decision and as a matter of comity the London judge had an obligation to support the proper conclusions of the French Court. The orders made for continuing welfare investigation in this jurisdiction were plainly wrong since the mother and child were now habitually resident in France. The English court should not have claimed jurisdiction. It should have considered an Art 15 transfer of its own motion to avoid a race between the two courts.

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