Handling Inter-Jurisdictional Child Cases: Guidance for Health and Social Care Trusts and the Northern Ireland Central Authority – The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service

Date published: 16 May 2022

Last updated: 31 May 2022

This Guidance is issued jointly by the Department of Health and the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service. 

Child cases which have an inter-jurisdictional element either cross-border or across states must be handled in compliance with international and domestic law. This Guidance is specific to the required cooperation between authorities under the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children (the 1996 Hague Convention) and the European Council Regulation (EC) No. 2201/2003 Concerning Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgements in Matrimonial Matters and the Matters of Parental Responsibility (Brussels IIa). 

The purpose of the Guidance is to:

  • clarify and increase awareness of the Central Authority (Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service) and Competent Authorities (Health and Social Care Trusts) duties and responsibilities under the 1996 Hague Convention and Brussels IIa Regulation
  • ensure a consistent regional approach to handling inter-jurisdictional cases, including collection of information for monitoring purposes
  • assist HSC Trust staff, in particular front-line social workers and their team managers, and NICA staff, to deal effectively with inter-jurisdictional child cases involving the 1996 Hague Convention or, where proceedings with an EU member state were instituted prior to 31 December 2020, inter-jurisdictional child cases involving the Brussels IIa Regulation. 
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