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JURISDICTION/WARDSHIP: Re B; RB v FB and MA [2008] EWHC 1436 (Fam)

Date:15 APR 2008

(Family Division; Hogg J; 15 April 2008)

The court made a 15-year-old British national who had been born and lived in Pakistan all her life a ward of court, notwithstanding that she had never been to the UK. The father was a British citizen who had returned to make his home in Pakistan; after his death the mother made arrangements for the girl to marry in Pakistan. The girl contacted the British High Commission in Islamabad asking to be rescued from the forced marriage. The FCO in Islamabad, having assessed the girl, wished to provide her with help, but needed the assistance of the court to do so. The girl had now been helped to join her half-brother in Scotland, who had offered her a home.

In these dire and exceptional circumstances the tentacles of the court could stretch towards Pakistan to rescue the child. The girl was and always had been a British child, and it had been right to offer her British help. It was wholly and completely wrong to require anyone to enter a marriage contrary to his or her wishes, and even more so if they were under age; it was significant that the girl had been under the age at which she would have been permitted to marry in the UK. The wardship would now be discharged because the Scottish courts had jurisdiction and were now seized.