JURISDICTION: Mercredi v Chaffe (Case C-497/10 PPU)

04 MAR 2011

(First Chamber of Court of Europe; 22 December 2010)

The unmarried parents had been living together in England but separated immediately after the birth of their daughter in 2009. The French national mother removed the child to Reunion Island where she had been born. An order was made by an English court requiring child's return from unknown destination. The mother (in Reunion) began proceedings in France.

The European Court provided guidance following a preliminary reference request from the Court of Appeal. The concept of ‘habitual residence', for the purposes of Articles 8 and 10 BIIR corresponds to the place which reflects some degree of integration by the child in a social and family environment - an infant's situation will be determined by reference to those who care for him. Where one Member State is seised in relation to a child, a non-return order by another Member State will have no effect on orders yet to be made by the seised Member State.

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