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President’s Guidance of 10 November 2014: The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU)

Sep 29, 2018, 20:06 PM
family law, ICACU, 1996 Hague Convention, Brussels 2 Revised, child abduction, jurisdiction, contact
I am aware that an increasing number of children cases have an international element and that courts often require information from other jurisdictions before being able to proceed. It is not always easy to know how to obtain this information.
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Date : Nov 10, 2014, 06:11 AM
Article ID : 107687
I am aware that an increasing number of children cases have an international element and that courts often require information from other jurisdictions before being able to proceed. It is not always easy to know how to obtain this information.

While it may not always be possible to obtain the information sufficiently quickly to enable the court to hear these cases within 26 weeks, I am very grateful to the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) for providing the following, which will help practitioners to follow the correct route to obtain information to help the court when necessary. It has been approved by Lady Justice Black and the Senior Master.

Practitioners will also need to be alive to Chapter VI of Part 12 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 as amended, and to The Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children (International Obligations) (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2010.

Sir James Munby
President of the Family Division
10 November 2014

The ICACU

The ICACU is the operational Central Authority for England and Wales for Council Regulation (EC) 2201/2003 (‘Brussels IIA’ or ‘the Revised Brussels II Regulation’) and for England only for the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children (‘the 1996 Hague Convention’).1

The ICACU provides a standard response/leaflet to enquiries about requests for co-operation from local authorities explaining about other sources of assistance including where to find information and contact details of other bodies which may be able to assist. A copy of that standard response/leaflet is attached as it is a helpful resource.

Can the ICACU help?

The ICACU is a small administrative unit. Its staff are not lawyers or social workers. The ICACU cannot give legal advice.

The ICACU may however be able to help by making a request for co-operation to another country, in particular for the collection and exchange of information if the other country is:

(a) either a

To decide if the proposed request for co-operation is in scope consider Articles 1, 53-57 of the Revised Brussels II Regulation and Articles 1, 3, 4 , 30-37 of the 1996 Hague Convention.

Contacting the ICACU

The ICACU’s general office telephone number is 0203 681 2608 and can be used by parties seeking “in principle" advice based on the ICACU’s experience of the other country. However the ICACU prefers contact to be made by email using the email address: icacu@offsol.gsi.gov.uk.

Email contact allows the ICACU to manage their busy workload and to collate information about the types of requests and countries. If an enquiry is made by telephone the ICACU will usually ask that the enquiry also be put in writing but understands that if a matter is urgent a telephone enquiry may first be necessary.

Making a request for co-operation

Requests for co-operation need to be relevant, focussed, timely and practical.

You should specify whether the request is being made under the Revised Brussels II Regulation or under the 1996 Hague Convention. You should identify in your request the Article(s) relied on by you for the purpose of making the request. Remember that the request needs to be in scope of the Revised Brussels II Regulation or the 1996 Hague Convention.

Requests for co-operation should be made as early as practicably possible. There is nothing in the Revised Brussels II Regulation or the 1996 Hague Convention which requires a requested State to respond to a request for co-operation within a particular timescale. The ICACU cannot compel the requested central authority or foreign competent authorities to respond within a specific timetable but their counterparts are more likely to be able to offer assistance if the request is focussed and made on a timely basis. The ICACU therefore asks that any request for co-operation is made as early as practicable in the proceedings and that it is informed about the court timetable including the date of any listed hearing.

When fixing the court timetable the timescale for a response from the other jurisdiction needs to be realistic having regard to the number of steps involved in a request for co-operation. In a public law case those steps may involve:
  • the decision to make a request for co-operation by the local authority whether following the court’s direction or otherwise;
  • request received by the ICACU;
  • the ICACU requesting any necessary translations;
  • the request being transmitted by the ICACU to the requested central authority;
  • the requested central authority making any enquiries directly or of its competent authorities to enable it to respond;
  • the requested central authority or the ICACU arranging any necessary translations of the response;
  • the ICACU transmitting the response to the local authority here;
  • the initial response from the requested central authority may include a request for additional information and documents in order to enable a more detailed response to be provided.
A sealed copy of any relevant court order should be provided to the ICACU promptly (to assist in avoiding delay).

In formulating the request for co-operation you should give consideration to what information practically the requested central authority and their competent authorities may require in order to respond to the request. A clear background case summary will assist. You should always provide the full name and date(s) of birth of the child(ren) and of any relevant adult and an explanation of the
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