(Family Division, Mostyn J, 18 December 2013)
Care proceedings were initiated in relation to the 18-month-old child due to a number of concerns for the family situation. The child's father was the mother's step-father and a fact-finding hearing concluded that he had abused the mother over a number of years but she remained in a relationship with him. The child had suffered significant harm and would be at risk of further significant harm in the care of his birth family. The mother had since given birth to a second child who now lived with the mother and father in the Czech Republic where they originated from. The Czech authorities had so far found the care of the child to be adequate and would continue to monitor the family.
During proceedings the Central Authority of the Czech Republic indicated that it might apply pursuant to Art 15 of BIIR for a transfer of proceedings or failing that the mother might do so. In the event the mother, opposed by the local authority and the children's guardian, proceeded with an application to transfer proceedings to the courts of the Czech Republic.
The child, who had lived his entire life in England, remained living here with foster carers but if final care and placement for adoption orders were made he would need to be placed with alternative prospective adopters.
In the circumstances of this case an Art 15 request would be made to the Czech Republic. Despite the family having moved to England prior to the child's birth, they remained a Czech family living in their own community, speaking their own language and contained many contacts with their country of origin. They had, more recently, returned there where this child's younger sibling had been born. If the court in the Czech Republic did not respond within 6 weeks then the case would proceed in this jurisdiction.
It was accepted that the mother and father were the only people within the pool of possible perpetrators and the judge determined that the injuries had been caused by one of them but was unable to determine which one.