Contact us on

020 7611 4848

email us


Arrange a Callback

Ask a Question

Hague Convention on Protection of Children Now in Force

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The 1996 Hague Convention on Protection of Children has existed for a considerable time but finally came into force in the UK on 1 November 2012. The full title gives a flavour of the intended purpose of the Convention - The Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children. Although it has been in force elsewhere since 1 January 2002, it has only been ratified by the UK in 2012.

What is Covered?
Broadly the Convention seeks to provide uniform rules for the protection of children across different states. The aim is to improve the outcomes for children by providing a clear set of rules for different states to cooperate when children are subject to cross border protection measures. By avoiding conflicts between legal systems and putting the best interests of the child first, the signatories sought to improve the protection of children.

The circumstances in which an application has been envisaged include:

· Parental disputes over custody when the parents live in different countries
· Child abduction
· Protecting unaccompanied minors from vulnerability to exploitation and other risks
· Co-operation in cases where children are being placed in alternative care such as fostering on a cross-border basis

There are a number of specific circumstances to which it does not apply that are set out in Article 4 of the Convention

How does it Operate?
The Convention has a wide scope but it specifically focuses upon the following areas:

· Jurisdiction – Articles 5-14. The Convention puts primacy on the decisions made in the country where the child has habitual residency.
· Applicable Law –Articles 15-22. It considers the law applicable to the authorities exercising their jurisdiction and the law applicable to parental responsibility. The general rule under the Convention is that the Contracting State should apply its law where it has jurisdiction.
· Recognition and Enforcement – Articles 23-28. The measures taken by the authorities in one state shall be recognised by the other states with limited exceptions set out in Article 23. Enforcement is also done in each state in accordance with the national laws of that state; if the measures taken need enforcement in another Contracting State they shall be enforced by a simple and rapid procedure.
· Co-operation – Articles 29-39. Contracting States must have a Central Authority to discharge Convention duties and cooperate with the authorities in other Contracting States.

If you would like to know more about the implications of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children or other family law issues please contact our Family Law Department by telephone on 0207 611 4848.