LOCAL AUTHORITY: Brent London Borough Council v S [2009] EWHC 1593 (Fam)

09 JUL 2009

(Family Division; Sir Christopher Sumner; 3 July 2009)

The child's father was killed by the Taliban, and his family disappeared. He arrived in the jurisdiction as an unaccompanied Afghan minor, and was granted discretionary leave to remain. He was accommodated with a foster family by the local authority. After 2 years, when the child was 17-years old, the child expressed his wish to travel to Pakistan to trace his family, whose whereabouts were unknown. He had saved money and purchased a ticket. The local authority considered that the trip was unsafe and not in the child's best interests, and applied without notice to the court for a passport order and an order prohibiting the child from leaving the jurisdiction. This was granted on an interim basis.

The interim orders would be discharged. The journey to Pakistan involved risks, but not significant ones. The child missed his family terribly, and the importance of knowing the truth, if it could be discovered, was profound. It was in the child's best interests to attempt to locate his family now, as it was not clear when he would be able to do so in future. The child was required to apply for permanent leave to remain before his 18th birthday, and after making that application he would not be able to leave the jurisdiction until the application was resolved, which could take a long time. However, the local authority had acted properly in seeking a decision from the court in such a difficult and anxious matter.

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