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19 NOV 2012

The International Recovery of Maintenance (Hague Convention 2007 etc.) Regulations 2012

These Regulations may be cited as the International Recovery of Maintenance (Hague Convention 2007 etc.) Regulations 2012, and, subject as follows, shall come into force on the day on which the Convention enters into force in respect of the European Union, which day will be notified in the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes.

Regulations 1, 2, 3 and 9, and Schedule 5 come into force on 7th December 2012.

Regulation 6 and Schedule 2 come into force on 1st April 2013, except in so far as they apply to the enforcement of a maintenance decision registered under the Convention.

These Regulations make provision to facilitate the application of the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other forms of Family Maintenance done at The Hague on 23rd November 2007 ("the Convention") in England and Wales. This provision is extended to Scotland in relation to enforcement of international maintenance decisions by way of driving disqualification, and both Scotland and Northern Ireland regarding the sharing of  information by certain Government departments to facilitate establishment and enforcement of maintenance decisions to which the 2007 Hague Convention applies.

The Convention will be concluded by the European Union on a date yet to be determined by virtue of Council Decision 2011/432/EU (OJ No. L 192, 22.7.2011, pages 39 to 50). European Union Member States (apart from Denmark) are bound to apply the Convention by virtue of conclusion by the European Union.

Regulation 4 designates the Lord Chancellor as Central Authority for England and Wales as required by Article 4 of the Convention.

Regulation 5 and Schedule 1 make provision for the enforcement of maintenance decisions and maintenance arrangements made in Contracting States to the Convention by the courts of England and Wales. Provision is also made for the treatment by the Central Authority and by the courts of an application to establish maintenance received from the Central Authority of a Contracting State.

Regulation 6 and Schedule 2 enable courts to which an application is made to enforce a maintenance decision under certain international instruments to do so by way of a driving disqualification order. For the courts of England and Wales, the power to impose driving disqualification is provided within the existing process for enforcement following a complaint under section 93 of the Magistrates' Courts Act. For cases in Scotland, a summary application is to be made to the sheriff court.

Regulation 7 and Schedule 3 make provision to enable the Central Authorities for the Convention in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to request specific information from certain public bodies for use in recovery of maintenance in cases under the Convention. This power enables the Central Authorities to fulfil certain of their duties under the Convention (in particular, those under Article 6). The provisions broadly reflect those of Council Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 relating to cross border maintenance matters between the Member States of the European Union, and the provision made in support of that Regulation in the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Maintenance) Regulations 2011 at Schedule 2

Regulation 8 and Schedule 4 make amendments to legislation consequential upon the application of the Convention in the United Kingdom, in particular to adapt the existing legislative machinery for enforcement of maintenance orders so that it can be applied to enforce maintenance decisions under the Convention. Provision is also made to revoke references to Norway in two existing instruments, subject to certain transitional and savings arrangements. Norway is already a Contracting State to the Convention and upon the Convention coming into force for the European Union, the recovery of maintenance in international cases between Norway and the United Kingdom will be primarily governed by the Convention. Future ratification or accession of States to the Convention will require further legislative provision where the United Kingdom has existing arrangements with such States for enforcement of maintenance which are superseded by the Convention.

Regulation 9 and Schedule 5 make further provision consequential on the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 in the United Kingdom from 18th June 2011. In particular, further amendments have been made to reflect the jurisdictional requirements of that Regulation, and revocations of the references to certain European Union Member States made in existing legislation where the Regulation supersedes the international agreements which that legislation implemented. Amendments are also made to the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Maintenance) Regulations 2011 in Schedule 1 regarding arrangements for the treatment by the Central Authorities and the courts of England and Wales, and Northern Ireland, of applications for establishment of maintenance made under the Regulation.

A full regulatory impact assessment of the effect that this instrument will have on the costs of business and the voluntary sector is available and is annexed to the explanatory memorandum which is available alongside the instrument at www.legislation.gov.uk.

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