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(Family Division, Holman J, 7 October 2013)
The Slovakian parents were trafficked from Slovakia to the UK and thereafter had three children in the UK. The three children were all removed from the parents' care and placed in a foster placement together while the parents sought a return of them to their care.
The local authority submitted that the parents were not capable either separately or together to parent the children and therefore the threshold had been crossed. Consideration was given to whether the children could be placed with family in Slovakia where their three older siblings lived. However, it became clear that due to issues with accommodation the paternal grandmother could not offer the children a home and there was no other family member who would be able to do so either.
During proceedings the International Legal Protection of Children and Youth Centre in Slovakia applied to the English court for a transfer of proceedings pursuant to Art 15 of BIIR.
In considering whether Slovakia was a better forum to determine the issues, the parents had lived in the UK since 2007 and all of the evidence existed in England. The current foster carers had indicated that if an adoptive placement was not found for the children then they would seek to care for them long term. That was the local authority's current care plan.
The Art 15 application was refused. If it were determined that the parents could not care for the children and if they had no alternative placement then very active consideration would be given to transferring the proceedings to Slovakia. But that was not the case here. The children would either be returned to the parents or remain living with foster carers with whom they had been living with for the last 18 months. It was not in their best interests to allow the application.
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure