Our articles are written by experts in their field and include barristers, solicitors, judges, mediators, academics and professionals from a range of related disciplines. Family Law provides a platform for debate for all the important topics, from divorce and care proceedings to transparency and access to justice. If you would like to contribute please email editor@familylaw.co.uk.
A day in the life Of...
Read on

Re G (Recognition of Brazilian Adoption) [2014] EWHC 2605 (Fam)

Date:5 AUG 2014
Third slide
Law Reporter
(Family Division, Cobb J, 29 July 2014)

[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports [2015] 1 FLR 1402]

Adoption – Foreign order – Application for recognition ofBrazilian order

The full judgment is available below

The British husband and Brazilian wife sought declarationsunder the inherent jurisdiction that adoption orders made in their favour in Brazil in respect of the two children, aged 10and 8, would be recognised under the law of Englandand Wales.The younger sibling of the children had previously been adopted under the HagueConvention which permitted for automatic recognition. Recognition of these twochildren would permit them the full status of an adopted person being treatedin law as if they had been born to the adopters. It would also assist theirimmigration position.

The three children were the niece and nephews of the wifeand she had cared for one or more of the children for the previous 6 years.Their birth mother suffered from depression and the parental relationship hadbeen abusive at times. Their emotional and physical needs had not been met,they were neglected and often hungry, under-nourished and under-stimulated. Bythe time of the youngest child’s birth, the father was in prison and themother, in recognition of the fact that she was struggling to parent herchildren, placed the baby in the care of the husband and wife shortly afterbirth and the adoption process was initiated.

The husband and wife had lived in a number of differentcountries due to the husband’s employment but they had spent three extendedperiods of time living in England,where they wished to settle with the children. However, the wife and childrenhad been refused discretionary leave to remain.

In the adoption process relating to all three children thehusband and wife were thoroughly assessed and approved as prospective adoptersby the relevant social services department in Brazil. The assessment processes,in which their care of the children, their health, financial circumstances andcharacters were all examined and evaluated, fully conformed to the Hague Adoption Convention and UK adoption practice. The adoptionorder in relation to the two older children was made in 2013 and permanentlyextinguished the parental rights and responsibilities of the birth parents.

Ten weeks after the adoption order was made Brazil wasadded to the list of countries whose overseas adoptions would be automaticallyrecognised in English law under the Adoption (Recognition of OverseasAdoptions) Order 2013.

The requirements of the relevant authorities had been met inthis case and the adoption orders would be recognised according to the law of England and Wales. Such a course was manifestlyin the best interests of the two children.

Having found that the English court would recognise theadoption, the children had standing to make an application for recognition ofthe overseas adoption pursuant to s 57 of the Family Law Act 1986. In addition they hadthe requisite domicile status acquired from their adoptive father. Further,there were no public policy reasons for not making the declaration.

Under FPR 8.21(1) 2010 the applicant for a declaration underPart II of the Family Law Act 1986 was required to send a copy of theapplication and all accompanying documents to the Attorney General at least onemonth prior to the application being made in order for the Attorney General todecide whether to intervene. However, s 59 of the 1986 Act provided that thecourt may direct the papers to be sent to the Attorney General. These two mandatoryand discretionary regimes did not appear to fit well together. In this case thepapers had not been submitted to the Attorney General. However, on theparticular facts of the case the judge found it to be just and proportionate toproceed to hear the case. The application and the judgment would be sentforthwith to the Attorney General and time would be given for him to considerwhether to intervene before a final order making the declaration would be made.

The finding made as torecognition of the adoption order would not mean that the childrenautomatically qualified for entry clearance however it would assist them tolegitimately enter the country and remain here. On the evidence available itseemed that the children satisfied the requirements of Para314 of the immigration rules. However, they would not automatically acquireBritish Citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981 but again it mightassist an application for citizenship registration.

The fully referenced, judicially approved judgment and headnote will appear in a forthcoming issue of Family Law Reports. A detailed summary and analysis of the case will appear in Family Law.

This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the children and members of their family must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWHC 2605 (Fam)

Case No: FD14P00681


Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London,
B e f o r e :


In the matter of G (children)


Kathryn Cronin (instructed by Goodman Ray) for the Applicants

Hearing date: 26 June 2014



Crown Copyright ©
The Honourable Mr Justice Cobb: 


[1]  By application dated 27 May 2014, brought under the inherent jurisdiction, AG and RG ("Mr. and Mrs. G" or "the Applicants") seek declarations that adoption orders made in their favour in Brazil in October 2013 in respect of D ("D") (d.o.b. 16.4.2004), and E ("E") (d.o.b. 1.8.2006) be recognised under the law of England and Wales.

[2]  The benefits for this family, and the children in particular, of having the children's status formalised in this way may hardly require elaboration. However, it is argued on behalf of the Applicants that in this particular case the declarations will have particular significance in that:-

i) D and E will thereby enjoy the same legal status in the family as their full brother F ("F") (d.o.b. 21.8.2008) who was also adopted by Mr. and Mrs. G, but under a different regime, namely The Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the 1993 Hague Adoption Convention) (which permits for automatic recognition);
ii) The adoptions of all three children will be recognised in the country of which Mr. G is a citizen, and in which the Applicants wish to make their permanent family home; by these orders, D and E will enjoy the full status of an adopted person, being treated in law as if born as the children of the adopters (section 67(1) Adoption and Children Act 2002);
iii) Recognition of the adoptions will also assist the children in entering, and remaining in, this country; the requirement for recognition of the Brazilian adoption by the UK is one of the criteria which must be satisfied in order for the children to qualify for entry to the UK. In this way, the family may be re-united here, permanently, for the first time. Thereafter, the Applicants hope that the Home Secretary will exercise her discretion to grant the children British Citizenship.

[3]  In determining the issues in this case, I have had cause to consider carefully the processes involved in making the relevant application; these are not altogether straightforward. I set out in the paragraphs which follow my discussion on the following points which have arisen for consideration:

i) In cases in which a declaration is sought in respect of a foreign adoption which is neither an 'overseas' adoption or a 'convention' adoption under Article 23 of The Hague Adoption Convention, there is, it seems to me, a distinct two-stage process which involves:

a) Consideration of recognition of the foreign adoption (under the inherent jurisdiction); and then separately, if the adoption is recognised;
b) The grant of a declaration (pursuant to section 57 Family Law Act 1986).

ii) The role (or potential role) of the Attorney-General in such proceedings;
iii) The role (or potential role) of Cafcass Legal in such proceedings.

[4]  For the purposes of determining the application, I read statements from each of the Applicants (Mr. and Mrs. G), copies of the relevant original adoption papers (translated), a letter from the Applicants' Brazilian lawyer, and a recent e-mail from Cafcass Legal. The Applicants have been ably represented by Ms Kathryn Cronin.


[5]  D and E were born in Brazil; their birth parents are Mr. S and Ms. T. They have a full brother, F. The children's birth father is Mrs. G's younger brother; D is therefore the Applicants' niece, and E and F, their nephews.

[6]  The Applicants were married in 2001. Mr. G is a banker, Mrs G has been caring for one or more of the children for the last six years.

[7]  It is apparent from the evidence filed that D and E had an unsatisfactory start to life in their care of their birth parents; their emotional and physical needs were not met, they were neglected, were often hungry, undernourished and were under-stimulated. On one occasion E was hospitalized due to malnutrition and pneumonia. These deficits in parenting were possibly attributable (at least in part) to the fact that the children's mother was said to suffer depression, and the parental relationship was occasionally abusive. None of the pregnancies were planned; the birth parents have now separated. By the time of F's birth, Mr. S (who was at that stage in prison) and Ms. T recognised that they were failing as parents, and the wider paternal family took steps to arrange for Mr. and Mrs. G to take care of F from birth. Mrs. G, then resident with her husband in Manila, flew to Brazil to be present at F's birth. F was placed immediately in the Applicants' care, where he has been for all of his life. Mrs. G remained living in Brazil with F until the domestic adoption process was completed

[8]  After F's birth, the care of D and E did not improve; early in 2009, D and E joined F in the care of the Applicants with the agreement of the birth parents, and all three children have lived with Mr. and Mrs. G since that time.

[9]  Over the last few years, the G family – Mr. and Mrs. G and the three children – have lived in different parts of the world, following various postings arising from Mr. G's employment. Between May 2008 and December 2010 they were based in Manila, and it was while living there that they adopted F (see §7 above).

[10]  They have spent three extended periods of time living in England, each time staying here on visitors' visas. They first came here in late 2010 for an extended stay, but Mrs G and the children could only remain (on visitors' visas) for six months. In the summer of 2011, they all returned to Brazil. In early 2012, the family returned and enjoyed another six months in England, again returning to Brazil during the summer (without Mr. G this time, who by then was working full-time here) when their visas expired. In late 2012, Mrs. G and the three children came back to England to repeat the pattern; once here, they applied for discretionary leave to remain. This application was refused, and the Home Office ordered the removal of Mrs. G and the children from the UK in March 2013.

[11]  By that time (October 2012), Mr. and Mrs. G had commenced adoption proceedings in Brazil in relation to D and E. That process came to an end with the making of adoption orders in October 2013.

[12]  Presently, Mrs G and the children are resident in Brazil where they have been since March 2013; Mr G is living in England, where he has been for the majority of the time since December 2010. The enforced separation of the parties (partly caused by immigration difficulties, and partly by Mr. G's need to work full-time here) has not been at all easy. The family understandably yearn for the opportunity to live together.

F's adoption

[13]  In May 2008, Mr. and Mrs. G commenced the adoption assessment process in order to obtain qualifying status to adopt the forthcoming child expected by Ms T. At that time, and as indicated above, they were living in Manila, on a posting with Mr. G's work. They submitted to the usual home study checks undertaken through the Inter-Country Adoption Board. They were approved as suitable adopters by the Philippine Competent Authority in November 2008 and the Brazilian court adoption order was made on 28 November 2010, well over two years since F had been placed with the Applicants. The judgment supporting the adoption records that "there is an excess of documents advocating in favour of the request…" and "they have the express consent of the parents"

[14]  F's adoption order was finally made on 12 April 2011 and the adoption was certified by the Brazilian competent authority as complying with the requirements under Article 23 of the 1993 Hague Adoption Convention on 18 August 2011. On 31 August 2011, F was issued with a new birth certificate.

[15]  Pursuant to section 66(1)(c) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, F's adoption order is regarded as a 'Convention Adoption'. Such an adoption is of full legal effect as provided for in section 67 of the ACA 2002.

D and E's adoption: Brazil

[16]  Having returned to Brazil in June 2012 after a six-month stay in England, Mr. and Mrs. G commenced proceedings for the adoption of D and E in October of that year (see §11 above). Given the uncertainty surrounding Mr. G's postings, they were advised to apply for domestic adoption orders within this application. Mr. and Mrs. G were thoroughly assessed once again and approved as prospective adopters by the relevant social services department in Brazil; as before, the assessment processes conformed to the 1993 Hague Adoption Convention and UK adoption practice. Their care of the children, their health, financial circumstances and characters were all examined and evaluated. A home study report was prepared for the Court and completed in June 2013.

[17]  In October 2013, a court hearing was convened and the birth parents attended. The judge ascertained that the birth parents gave full and informed consent to the adoption, and, having read the reports and other material, declared that adoption was in the children's best interests. The judge noted that the social work evidence recorded that the applicants have given the children "all their love and affection, as if they were their own biological children, and offer them a beneficial family environment …a solid family base". The Brazilian adoption order was made on 17 October 2013. Like an English adoption order, this order permanently extinguished the parental rights and responsibilities of the birth parents and in the following month, the children's original birth certificates were cancelled and reissued to show D and E as the children of the Applicants. The final versions of the re-issued birth certificates for D and E were finally produced in April 2014.

[18]  At the time of D's and E's adoptions (17 October 2013) Brazil was not listed as a designated country whose 'overseas adoptions' were recognized under English law (at that time the Designation of Overseas Adoptions Order 1973 (SI19/1973) was in force). However, just over two months later (3 January 2014) Brazil was added to the revised list of countries whose 'overseas' adoptions would be recognised in English law: see The Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) Order 2013, which revoked and replaced the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973 and revoked the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) (Variation) Order 1993. Therefore if the adoption order in relation to D and E had been made some ten weeks later, the children would have been entitled to automatic recognition in England and Wales.

Recognition of the Adoption Order at common law

[19]  Section 66 Adoption and Children Act 2002 sets out the types of foreign adoption orders which will be recognised in English law; some are recognised automatically, such as a 'convention' adoption order (i.e. under the 1993 Hague Adoption Convention) or an 'overseas' adoption order. Others require specific proceedings to achieve recognition at common law; this is one of those cases which require court-determined recognition.

[20]  In re Valentine's Settlement [1965] 1 Ch 831 is the recognised font of the jurisprudence, since which time the courts have considered and refined the test for recognition of a foreign adoption at common law. In Re Valentine's Settlement Lord Denning MR said this:

"But when is the status of adoption duly constituted? Clearly it is so when it is constituted in another country in similar circumstances as we claim for ourselves. Our courts should recognise a jurisdiction which mutatis mutandis they claim for themselves: see Travers v Holley. We claim jurisdiction to make an adoption order when the adopting parents are domiciled in this country and the child is resident here. So also, out of the comity of nations, we should recognise an adoption order made by another country when the adopting parents are domiciled there and the child is resident there."

[21]  The subsequent jurisprudence has refined the test at common law to three essential questions:

i) Was the adoption obtained wholly lawfully in the foreign jurisdiction?
ii) If so, did the concept of adoption in that jurisdiction substantially conform with the English concept? And
iii) If so, was there any public policy consideration that should mitigate against recognition?

On this see, in particular, the relatively recent cases of Re T and M (Adoption) [2011] 1 FLR 1487; see also Re N (Recognition of Foreign Adoption Order) [2010] 1 FLR 1102.

[22]  Although Peter Jackson J added a further requirement (namely that the adoption is in the best interests of the child: see A County Council v M and Others (No 4) (Foreign Adoption: Refusal of Recognition) [2013] Fam Law 933) this additional element does not appear to be supported by other authority: see Re T and M (above) and Re R (Recognition of Indian Adoption) [2013] 1 FLR 1487 (where welfare would only be considered when, after recognition, the court goes on to consider making an adoption order).

[23]  Notable of the other cases to which my attention has been drawn is Z v Z (Recognition of Brazilian Adoption Order) [2013] EWHC 747. The case has some factual similarities with this one, quite apart from the Brazilian connection. In that case, Theis J described the Brazilian adoption process as having been "undertaken with the same careful, thorough and best interests assessment as in a UK adoption" (§13); she further reflected that the adoption order there would irrevocably transfer parental rights to the applicants.

[24]  On the evidence filed in this case, I respond to the questions posed in §21 above as follows:

i) Consistent with the status conditions required for a domestic adoption application (section 49 (2) ACA 2002), Mrs G was and is domiciled, and was for the 12 months preceding the adoption, habitually resident in Brazil. Save for extended visits to the UK, she has lived with the children in Brazil since August 2008. Mrs. G has signed a statement in which she confirms the enduring strength of her ties with Brazil; the Brazilian adoption orders were lawfully obtained and are valid. This is confirmed by the Brazilian lawyer who represented the Applicants. The adoption process, and order largely conform with the English concept of adoption; the Brazilian Court ruling gave paramount consideration to the children's best interests, terminates the parental rights of the birth parents and confers on the Applicants the parental status;
ii) As Hedley J said in Re T and M (Adoption) (above):

"Clearly the English Court should not be recognising (and thus giving effect to) a foreign adoption unless what was conferred by that order is substantially the same as would be conferred by an English order".The Brazilian adoption orders are (according to the Applicants' Brazilian lawyer) "full, final and irrevocable". I have no reason not to accept this.

iii) I am satisfied that there is no public policy reason against recognition of these adoption orders. In considering this, I have had regard to the comments in Dicey, G& Collins, The Conflict of Laws (Sweet and Maxwell, 14th edn, 2007), where this helpful passage is to be found at para 20–133:

'If the foreign adoption was designed to provide some immoral or mercenary object, like prostitution or financial gain to the adopter, it is improbable that it would be recognised in England. But, apart from exceptional cases like these, it is submitted that the court should be slow to refuse recognition to a foreign adoption on the grounds of public policy merely because the requirements for adoption in the foreign law differ from those of the English law.'In this case, the family has been subjected to very considerable scrutiny by way of social work assessment during their two 'rounds' of adoption process. Their applications for adoption orders in Brazil were well-motivated, and their application here for recognition appears to be for an entirely proper purpose: recognition of their adoption will give equal status within the family to the three children under English law and allow for their relocation to the UK as a family.

[25]  Having regard to all the matters set out above, particularly in §24, I am satisfied that the adoption orders made in Brazil should be properly recognised according to the law of England and Wales. If it were necessary to go on to consider whether such recognition were in D and E's best interests (see A County Council v M and Others (No 4) (Foreign Adoption: Refusal of Recognition) at §22 above), I can confirm that it would manifestly be so.

Declaration of status of adoption

[26]  I turn now to the second issue, namely whether and if so how, that recognition should be recorded as a declaration.

[27]  I had considered whether I could proceed to the second issue continuing to deploy the wide powers vested in me under the inherent jurisdiction to make the declarations sought by Mr. and Mrs. G. It is widely acknowledged that "no limit has ever been set to" the inherent jurisdiction (see Lord Denning in Re X (A minor)(Wardship jurisdiction) [1975] Fam 47), and from time to time the jurisdiction is deployed to address a lacuna in process or substance of family law (see by way of illustration Re C (Adoption Notice) [1999] Fam 240, and Re J (Freeing for Adoption) [2000] 2 FLR 58). There is, however, an accessible and established statutory regime available to facilitate the relief sought in this case, and in the circumstances in my judgment it should be used.

[28]  The procedure for obtaining a declaration of status derives from section 57 Family Law Act 1986 (Declarations as to adoptions effected overseas):

"(1) Any person whose status as an adopted child of any person depends on whether he has been adopted by that person by either –

(a) a Convention adoption, or an overseas adoption, within the meaning of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, or
(b) an adoption recognised by the law of England and Wales and effected under the law of any country outside the British Islands,may apply to the High Court or the family court for one (or for one or, in the alternative, the other) of the declarations mentioned in subsection (2) below.

(2) The said declarations are –

(a) a declaration that the applicant is for the purposes of section 39 of the Adoption Act 1976 or section 67 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 the adopted child of that person;
(b) a declaration that the applicant is not for the purposes of that section the adopted child of that person.

(3) A court shall have jurisdiction to entertain an application under subsection (1) above if, and only if, the applicant –

(a) is domiciled in England and Wales on the date of the application, or
(b) has been habitually resident in England and Wales throughout the period of one year ending with that date."

[29]  The effect of any declaration made under this section is far-reaching: section 58 of the Family Law Act 1986 (General Provisions as to the making and effect of Declarations) provides that any declarations made under the 1986 Act shall be binding on all persons, including HM The Queen (section 58(2)).

[30]  The specific terms of section 57(1)(b) underline the discrete two stage nature of the process of (1) recognition and then (2) declaration. Before an application can be made for a declaration, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that the adoption is "recognised by the law of England and Wales". Once that recognition is achieved, then the application under section 57 follows.

[31]  It is apparent from the language of this section ("Any person whose status as an adopted child of any person depends on whether he has been adopted by that person … may apply…") and indeed from Rule 8.20 of the FPR 2010 (which identifies that the Respondents to the application are the people who the applicant claims are the adoptive parents or who it is said are not the adoptive parents) that the applicants for this application should be the children themselves.

[32]  In this case, and having found (§25 above) that the English Court recognises their adoption by Mr. and Mrs. G, and that the children are therefore to be treated as the children of the applicants, D and E have standing to make an application pursuant to section 57 FLA 1986. They also have the required domicile status, having acquired this from their adoptive father (Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973, section 4).

[33]  There is a presumption (section 58(1)) that the declaration shall be made unless it is contrary to public policy. For reasons set out in §24(iii) above, I am satisfied that there are no public policy bars to the making of the declaration sought.

[34]  The two-stage process gives rise to procedural complications, at least on the facts of this case. The application for an order under the inherent jurisdiction was brought (properly) by Mr. and Mrs. G; this was the application which was considered at the hearing on 26 June 2014, and has (as is apparent from my decision in §25 above) now been disposed of. Following discussions with counsel, an anticipatory application under section 57 was issued following that hearing (3 July 2014) with the children as Applicants. They needed a litigation friend (rule 16.5) and Mr. G was identified as their litigation friend.

[35]  Having reviewed further the provisions of rule 16.9 of the FPR 2010 I am of the view that Mr. G should not be their litigation friend, as he is a respondent to the application with personal involvement in its outcome. Following a subsequent e-mail exchange with counsel, I am advised that Mr. G's twin sister, Mrs. H (i.e. the children's aunt), who knows them well (and is in fact a former solicitor) agrees to be their litigation friend; I have seen an e-mail from her to that effect (which, for the avoidance of doubt, suffices for the purposes of rule 16.12(2)). In the circumstances and subject to her giving the appropriate undertaking in costs (rule 16.9(2)) I will direct (per rule 16.12(1)) that Mr. G be replaced by Mrs. H as litigation friend for the children.

Attorney General

[36]  There is a requirement in the FPR 2010 where proceedings are to be issued for a declaration under Part III of the Family Law Act 1986 for the Applicant to send a copy of the application and all accompanying documents to the Attorney General at least one month before the application is made (see rule 8.21(1) of the Family Procedure Rules 2010). The Attorney General may then decide whether to intervene in the proceedings and inspect any document filed at court (rule 8.21(2)).

[37]  Once proceedings have been issued, section 59 of the 1986 Act (within Part III of the 1986 Act) further and separately provides that:

"(1) On an application to a court for a declaration under this Part the court may at any stage of the proceedings, of its own motion or on the application of any party to the proceedings, direct that all necessary papers in the matter be sent to the Attorney-General.
(2) The Attorney-General, whether or not he is sent papers in relation to an application to a court for a declaration under this Part, may –

(a) intervene in the proceedings on that application in such manner as he thinks necessary or expedient, and
 (b) argue before the court any question in relation to the application which the court considers it necessary to have fully argued.

(3) Where any costs are incurred by the Attorney-General in connection with any application to a court for a declaration under this Part, the court may make such order as it considers just as to the payment of those costs by parties to the proceedings." (emphasis by underlining added).

[38]  The mandatory obligation under the FPR 2010 and the discretionary regime under the 1986 Act do not appear to fit well together.

[39]  I recognise, and would like to emphasise, that there is good reason for the Attorney General to be supplied with the application and supporting papers in an application of this kind, notably (though not exclusively):

i) To prevent proceedings for a declaration of adoption status being brought in order to achieve a benefit or possible benefit or status to which the applicant would not otherwise be entitled (such as British Citizenship);
ii) To ensure that orders or declarations in relation to adoption are not made which would be contrary to public policy.

[40]  In the instant case, the Applicants did not send the proposed application to the Attorney General a month before making it, or indeed at all. This point was raised at the outset of the hearing on 26 June, and having reviewed the 2010 Rules with counsel, and with a little reservation, I decided that the application could proceed notwithstanding this failure. I had particular regard to a combination of the following points:

i) Rule 6.36 of the FPR 2010 appears to give me wide powers to dispense with service of any document which is to be served in proceedings (this applies to the service of documents except where a different provision appears in the rules, "or the court otherwise directs");
ii) I have wide general powers of management of cases (notably rule 4.1(o) to "take any … step or make any … order for the purpose of managing the case and furthering the overriding objective");
 iii) Linked to (ii) above, I can specifically make an order to remedy an error in any procedure ("such as a failure to comply with a rule or Practice Direction") – see rule 4.7 FPR 2010;
iv) I should have regard to the overriding objective to deal with the application "justly" and "proportionately" (rule 1(1)/(2) FPR 2010);
v) The 1986 Act (specifically section 59(2)) appears to contemplate that the application for a declaration may have been issued and actually be before the court for determination without the papers having been previously sent to him (i.e. "whether or not he is sent papers in relation to an application to a court for a declaration under this Part": see above).

[41]  On the particular facts of this case, it seemed to me that it was indeed 'just' and 'proportionate' that I should proceed to hear the case particularly given that:

i) Recognition of the Brazilian adoption order does not of itself confer on D and E British Citizenship;
ii) Had the adoption order been made three months later, D and E's adoption order would have been recognised here automatically as an overseas adoption;
iii) Cafcass Legal had indicated that they did not consider it necessary to be involved having seen the background facts and arguments (see §45 below);
iv) There was no obvious public policy argument arising on which I considered the Attorney-General would be likely to be exercised.

[42]  Furthermore, in fact, in the authorities to which Ms Cronin has drawn my attention, there is only passing reference to the requirement of notice having been given to the Attorney General in one (A County Council v M and Others (No 4) (Foreign Adoption: Refusal of Recognition) [2013] Fam Law 933). It may simply be that this formality did not warrant mention in the other judgments to which I have been referred; however Ms Cronin candidly informed me, having appeared in at least two of the recent cases (namely Re K [2012] EWHC 2956, and Z v Z [2013] EWHC 747 (Fam)), that she believed that in those cases there had been no compliance with the requirements of rule 8.21 of the FPR 2010.

[43]  I should add that I regard the circumstances in which it would be appropriate to waive compliance with rule 8.21 as rare. I do not propose to set out any wider guidance here about when such situations will arise (particularly in the absence of any submissions or other contribution from the Attorney-General in this case); suffice it to record that, in my view, each case will turn on its own unique facts.

[44]  In the instant case, I propose to deal with this oversight by effectively making a declaration nisi. That is to say that the recently issued application (as amended to reflect the replacement of the litigation friend) together with this judgment should be sent forthwith to the Attorney General. If by 29 August 2014 he has not indicated that he wishes to intervene in the proceedings, I shall, at a hearing on 2 September 2014 make the order final.

Cafcass Legal

[45]  Bodey J., at an earlier directions hearing, directed that Cafcass Legal be invited to consider whether it wished to be joined into the proceedings. Having considered the Position Statement and the Orders, Cafcass Legal took the view that it could not assist. It indicated that although it had appeared in Z v Z [2013] EWHC 747, a case on broadly similar facts, in that case (unlike here) there was an additional argument over the children's habitual residence. I am grateful to Cafcass Legal for considering the papers and am satisfied with this response.

Immigration / Citizenship

[46]  An immediate issue arises as to whether my finding or proposed declaration affects the immigration status of the children.

[47]  The finding made and proposed declaration do not of themselves have the consequence that the children will qualify for entry clearance as adopted children. However, the finding / declaration will I believe assist D and E legitimately to enter this country and remain here; the requirement for recognition of the adoption by the UK is one of the criteria which must be satisfied for the children to qualify for entry to the UK.

[48]  In reaching this conclusion, I have considered with care the relevant provisions of the Immigration Rules, notably Paragraphs 309A to 316F which make provision for the grant of entry clearance and leave to remain for adopted, adoptive and 'de facto adopted' children. It is paragraph 314 which is of particular significance here, which addresses the "Requirements for limited leave to enter the United Kingdom with a view to settlement as the adopted child of a parent or parents given leave to enter the UK with a view to settlement in the United Kingdom". If the children enter the United Kingdom they will (under the Rules) be granted status equivalent to that granted to Mrs G (the children would only qualify to be granted immediate settlement if both parents were settled in the UK - i.e if they are British citizens or here with indefinite leave to remain / permanent residence; this is not so here).

[49]  Although Mrs. G did at one time have indefinite leave to remain, this was forfeited when she subsequently spent a period of more than two years abroad. She will therefore have to re-qualify for entry as a spouse and is, I understand, likely to be given five years limited leave to enter, following which she can qualify for settlement. As Mrs G will have limited (and not indefinite) leave to enter, the children will, I believe, be granted renewable terms of limited leave in line with her status and should also qualify for settlement when Mrs G acquires settlement after five years residence here as a spouse.

[50]  Considering the immediate issue, it seems to me, on the evidence which I have seen, that the children satisfy the multiple requirements set out in paragraph 314 of the Immigration Rules. While not rehearsing the catalogue of requirements here, it is appropriate to highlight that Mr. and Mrs. G will need to demonstrate that the children were:

"adopted in accordance with a decision taken by the competent administrative authority or court in [their] country of origin or the country in which [they are] resident, being a country whose adoption orders are recognised by the United Kingdom" (paragraph 314(v)(a)) (emphasis added);

And that the children were adopted:

"due to the inability of the original parent(s) or current carer(s) to care for [them] and there has been a genuine transfer of parental responsibility to the adoptive parents" (paragraph 314(viii));

And that the children have:

"lost or broken [their] ties with [their] family of origin…" (paragraph 314(ix));

And that the children were:

"adopted, but the adoption is not one of convenience arranged to facilitate [their] admission to the United Kingdom" (paragraph 314(ix)).

[51]  As to paragraph 314(ix) above ("lost or broken … ties"), I am uncertain whether D, E or F retain any relationship with their birth parents (particularly their birth father, now their legal uncle). However I note that in VB v Entry Clearance Officer- Ghana [2002] UKIAT 1323, Mr. Justice Collins held in respect of kinship adoptions (see §14-15):

"Modern thinking does not believe that it is necessarily in the best interests of an adopted child to lose all contact with his or her parents or families of origin. …. We are satisfied that 'ties with his family of origin' … is intended to ensure that the adoption is not as it were temporary and that, once the child has obtained the entry to the United Kingdom which the adoption will achieve, the family of origin takes back responsibility. There must be a loss or break of the ties of responsibility. Those of affection may remain."

[52]  On the evidence I have seen, I am wholly satisfied that the adoption of D and E is not intended to be temporary. Indeed, far from offending against the mischief which the rules are designed to address, the orders were obtained in my judgment in good faith.

[53]  Recognition of the adoptions in this case will not affect citizenship status of these children. The children will not automatically acquire British Citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981, which provides (per section 1(5) and (5A)):

 (a) any court in the United Kingdom … makes an order authorising the adoption of a minor who is not a British citizen; …. that minor shall, if the requirements of subsection (5A) are met, be a British citizen as from the date on which the order is made …" (Section 1(5))
"Those requirements are that on the date on which the order is …—
(a) the adopter or, in the case of a joint adoption, one of the adopters is a British citizen …" (Section 1(5A))

The fact that I 'recognise' the validity of the Brazilian adoption, and declare that it is so recognised under the law of England and Wales does not effect a change in the children's nationality (see also Re D [2008] EWHC 403 (Fam)).

[54]  However section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 goes on to provide:

"(1) If while a person is a minor an application is made for his registration as a British citizen, the Secretary of State may, if he thinks fit, cause him to be registered as such a citizen."

The Home Office has published Nationality Instructions which include, at Chapter 9, guidance concerning the discretionary registration of children. This guidance provides at 9.8.4 that children adopted overseas whose adoptions are recognised will 'normally' be registered provided that:

a) the adoption is not informal or temporary; and
b) under the law of the country where the adoption took place the child is the child of the adoptive parent(s) alone and the legal relationship with the birth family has been completely terminated;
 c) At least one of the adoptive parents is a British citizen and the adopters have both consented to the citizenship registration.

[55]  Thus the recognition and declaration made in this case may also assist to facilitate an application for citizenship registration if this were to be made by / for the children.


[56]  For the reasons set out and discussed above, the orders I propose to make are as follows:

i) I confirm that the adoptions of D and E in Brazil in October 2013 are recognised in accordance with the common law of England and Wales;
ii) I dispense with the requirement on the Applicants to have notified the Attorney General of the application under section 57 FLA 1986 one month before it was made;
iii) I shall direct that the application (now issued) and this judgment shall forthwith be sent to the Attorney General;
iv) I shall list the application under section 57 for mention on 2 September 2014. Unless the Attorney-General has indicated his intention to intervene in these proceedings by the 29 August, I shall make the declaration sought namely that 'D and E are for the purposes of section 67 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 the adopted children of Mr. and Mrs. G'.

[57]  That is my Judgment.
Family Court Practice, The
Family Court Practice, The
Order the 2022 edition
Family Law
Family Law
"the principal (monthly) periodical dealing with...
Financial Remedies Handbook
Financial Remedies Handbook
Formerly entitled the Ancillary Relief Handbook...