New guidance issued by the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit

New guidance issued by the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit

The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) has published a new form and guidance notes for local authorities to use in child protection cases to make a request for co-operation to another country. The form is intended to help local authorities check whether their request is covered by the Brussels II bis or the 1996 Hague Convention, and to ensure that they include enough information to enable the ICACU to process their request.  The form can be completed by a local authority lawyer or social worker.

The aim of the form is to:

  • reduce delay and improve care planning for the child where the case has an international element
  • help local authorities make better formulated requests for information or assistance to the other country; and
  • improve communication when sharing information about the child with the other country.

The form should be read in conjunction with the guidance published by the President of the Family Division about the ICACU’s role in these cases, together with the departmental advice published by the Department for Education for local authorities where a case has a cross border element, ie

The ICACU discharges the day to day duties of the central authority in England and Wales for Brussels II bis, and in England for the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention.  It acts as a contact point for requests for co-operation into and out of this jurisdiction made under either Brussels II bis or under the 1996 Hague Convention.

A request for co-operation can be made where the issues are covered by Brussels II bis or the 1996 Hague Convention, and the other country is a Member State of the European Union and/or the 1996 Hague Convention is in force between the other country and the UK including, for example, if:

  • a local authority needs information to assist it in developing a care plan for a child either because the child or their family are originally from the other country, or because they have family in the other country who may be able to care for the child; or
  • because the local authority needs to share information about a child with the authorities in the other country

The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has issued a note on the new guidance, which can be accessed here: ICACU.

Geraldine Morris is a solicitor and Head of LexisPSL Family.

Twitter: @GeraldineMorris

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About the author:

Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.

Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.

When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).