Child Abduction: Amine v. Amine

The recent case of Amine v. Amine [2020] EWHC 2339 (Fam) https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2020/2339.html concerns the abduction of children by one parent, in this case the mother, to another country. The application was made by the children’s father who was seeking their return to Morocco. The mother abducted the children to the UK and therefore the application, made under the Hague Convention, was heard in the English Court.

The facts of this case are, in some ways, typical of a child abduction case but this case is of particular interest as this was not the first time the mother had abducted the children and taken them to the UK; it was the third. On each occasion, she was ordered by the Court to return the children to Morocco.

Cases under the Hague Convention can be complex but, in essence, this case was straightforward. The Court determined that the children were habitually resident in Morocco, meaning that their lives were based there and, consequently, the Moroccan court had jurisdiction over decisions concerning those children. This meant that any attempt to relocate by the mother should have been properly dealt with by making an application to the Moroccan court.

Given the nuances of this case, and whilst cases concerning children are usually anonymised to protect the children and the parties from any public scrutiny, the Judge when dealing with the third set of abduction proceedings decided to make the parties’ names public in order to serve as a deterrent to mother from abducting the children for a fourth time.

GoodLaw Solicitors LLP are specialists in matters concerning child abduction, relocation, inherent jurisdiction and Hague Convention cases. If you require assistance, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice before taking any unilateral action to remove your children from the country in which they live without the consent of any other person who has parental responsibility for them. The consequences can be grave as child abduction is a criminal offence and the courts have the power to make orders for costs against the party who took the children. Indeed, in the Amine case, the mother had a costs order made against her meaning that she had to pay the entirety of the father’s legal costs as well as her own. The Court could also have considered other sanctions and, indeed, if the case is now to proceed through Moroccan courts the mother may very well have damaged her chances of successfully applying to relocate.