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21 MAR 2016

Ciccone v Ritchie (No 2) [2016] EWHC 616 (Fam)

Ciccone v Ritchie (No 2) [2016] EWHC 616 (Fam)
(Family Division, MacDonald J, 21 March 2016)

Abduction – Hague Convention 1980 – Permission to withdraw proceedings – Whether permission was required pursuant to FPR 29.4 – Whether permission should be granted to publish the judgments in full

The mother was granted permission to withdraw her application under the Hague Convention 1980 and permission was given for two judgments in the case to be published.

When the parents, Madonna and Guy Ritchie, divorced a consent order provided for the mother to permanently leave remove the children to New York to live and for generous contact with the father. That order was registered with the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

In 2015 following contact with the father, the 15-year-old refused to return to New York and he had remained since then in the UK. Mediation attempts were unsuccessful and the mother initiated proceedings under the Hague Convention 1980 seeking a return order. At an earlier hearing the son was made a party to the proceedings: Ciccone v Ritchie (No 1) [2016] EWHC 608 (Fam). Proceedings were also ongoing in the State of New York.

All parties were in agreement that the court in New York had jurisdiction. The mother now sought to withdraw the Hague Convention application but continued to seek a return order under the auspices of a return order made in New York and she submitted that she did not need permission to withdraw the proceedings.

The judge held that FPR 2010, r 29.4 did apply to applications in proceedings under the Hague Convention, governed by FPR 2010, Part 12, Chapter 6 and that, accordingly, the permission of the court was required to withdraw such proceedings.

Having regard to the need to further the overriding objective the mother should be given to withdraw the proceedings under the Hague Convention. It would not serve the ends of justice to compel parties to pursue an application which they wished to bring to an end.

The son's passport would be released by his solicitor and any further hearings in this jurisdiction would be reserved to MacDonald J but beyond that it was not appropriate for further directions to be made in respect of any future proceedings.

Balancing the competing Arts 8 and 10 rights under the European Convention the judge was satisfied that the two judgments should be published subject to reporting restrictions. Given the high levels of publicity surrounding the case it would be impossible to eradicate the risk of jigsaw identification. The choice was to publish in full or not to publish the judgments at all. All of the information contained in the judgments was already in the public domain and there was no evidence that publication of the judgments would be harmful to the son. That decision was base don the highly specific and exceptional circumstances of the case.

Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWHC 616 (Fam)
Case No: FD15P00621


Royal Courts of Justice

Date: 21/03/2016



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Madonna Louise Ciccone

- and -

Guy Stuart Ritchie
First Respondent
- and -
Rocco John Ritchie
Second Respondent

(No 2)

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Mr. David Williams QC and Miss. Jacqueline Renton (instructed by Payne Hicks Beach) for the Applicant
Mr. Alex Verdan QC and Mr. Michael Gration (instructed by Stewarts Law) for the First Respondent
Mr. Henry Setright QC and Mr. Edward Devereux (instructed by Goodman Ray) for the Second Respondent
Mr. Adam Wolanski appeared on behalf of News Group Newspapers and Associated Newspapers Limited

Hearing dates: 10 and 11 March 2016

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Ciccone v Ritchie (No 2) 2016 EWHC 616 (Fam)

Approved Judgment

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