WALES/ENGLAND – Supreme Court to decide on wardship of child who has never been in the jurisdiction

Judgment published

Family Law Week


On Monday, 9th September the Supreme Court will give judgment in Re A (Children). The Court of Appeal judgment in the case was reported as ZA & Anor v NA [2012] EWCA Civ 1396.

STOP PRESS: The Supreme Court judgment can be read here.

An article, explaining and assessing the impact of the judgment, written by Alex Verdan QC, Jacqueline Renton and Michael Gration of 4 Paper Buildings, and Simon Bruce of Farrer & Co, will be published on Family Law week within the next seven days.

The Supreme Court – comprising Lady Hale of Richmond, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes of Ombersley and Lord Toulson – will decide whether the wardship jurisdiction (or inherent jurisdiction) of the Family Division of the High Court ever be exercised in respect of an infant child who has never been physically present in England and Wales.

Until October 2006 the appellant (the mother) lived in England with the first respondent (the husband) and their three children. All are British citizens. The marriage got into difficulty and the couple were separated between 2006 and 2008 when the husband spent time in Pakistan. The three children continued to live with their mother during this period. The husband returned to England in 2008. Not long after this the mother moved out of the family home. At first she lived in a refuge before moving to separate accommodation where she lived with the three children. On 13 October 2009 the mother and all three children went on holiday to Pakistan. They had booked to return to the UK on 3 November 2009. However, when in Pakistan the mother alleges that she was pressurised by the father and other family members into remaining in Pakistan against her will. Her passport and those of her children were removed from her such that she could not return to England. In February 2010 the mother discovered that she was pregnant by the first respondent with their fourth child. The child was born in Pakistan on 20 October 2010. This child is also a UK citizen. In May 2012 the appellant was able to recover her passport and returned to England. All four children remain in Pakistan. On 12 June 2012 the mother made a wardship application without notice in respect of all four children.

The High Court declared that all four children were habitually resident in England, made them Wards of the court and required the first respondent to return them to England. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court with respect to the three older children. However, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal (Thorpe LJ dissenting) in respect of the youngest child on the basis that that child had never been physically present in England.

In order to view the Court of Appeal judgment and a summary of it, please click here.

James Turner QC of 1 King’s Bench Walk and Alistair Perkins and Hassan Khan both of 4 Paper Buildings (instructed by Dawson Cornwell) act for the appellant mother. Henry Setright QC of 4 Paper Buildings and Edward Devereux of Harcourt Chambers (instructed by Thompson & Co.) act for the respondents. For the interveners Richard Harrison QC and Peter Newman of 1 King’s Bench Walk (instructed by Bindmans) act for Reunite; Alex Verdan QC, Jacqueline Renton and Michael Gration all of 4 Paper Buildings (instructed by Farrer and Co) act for CFAB; and Baroness Scotland QC, Ruth Kirby and Rachel Chisholm all of 4 Paper Buildings (instructed by Hodge Jones and Allen) act for The Centre for Family Law and Practice.


SOURCE: Family Law Week

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