Child abduction—1996 Hague Convention
Child abduction—1996 Hague Convention

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Child abduction—1996 Hague Convention
  • Ratifying countries
  • Differences between the 1980 and 1996 Hague Conventions and Brussels II bis
  • Application and co-operation provisions

This Practice Note is impacted by the exit of the UK from the EU on 31 January 2020. This has implications for practitioners, inter alia, when considering which courts have jurisdiction to determine a dispute. For guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—children proceedings. This Practice Note sets out the current position on child abduction under the 1996 Hague Convention.

The 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children (the 1996 Hague Convention) came into force in England and Wales on 1 November 2012. Generally, in child abduction cases, the 1996 Hague Convention will apply in matters that are outside of the scope of Brussels II bis. The objectives of the 1996 Hague Convention are to:

  1. determine which state has jurisdiction

  2. determine which law is to be applied

  3. determine who has parental responsibility

  4. make provision for the recognition and enforcement of decisions, and

  5. establish further judicial co-operation

Many of the provisions of the 1996 Hague Convention were mirrored in Brussels II and subsequently Brussels II bis (Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003). Brussels II bis, art 61 provides that:

  1. Brussels II bis will apply where the child is habitually resident in an EU Member State, or

  2. where the proceedings relate to the recognition or enforcement of a Member State judgment regardless