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·Home >> International Treaty on Divorce

Practice Guide for the application of the new Brussels II Regulation
Add Date:2009-2-22      
Up-dated version 1 June 2005
Practice Guide
for the application of the new Brussels II Regulation
(Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003
concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of
judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental
responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000)
This document has been drawn up by the Commission services in
consultation with the European Judicial Network in civil and
commercial matters.
2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction p. 4
I. Scope of application p. 5
1. Commencement provisions and geographical scope p. 5
(a) General rule p. 5
(b) Transitional rules p. 5
2. Material scope
2.1. Which matters are covered by the Regulation? p. 8
(a) Matters covered by the Regulation p. 8
(b) Matters excluded from the Regulation p. 9
2.2. Which decisions are covered by the Regulation? p. 10
2.3. The Regulation does not prevent courts from taking provisional,
including protective, measures in urgent cases p. 11
II. Which Member States courts have jurisdiction? p. 11
1. General rule C the State of the habitual residence of the child p. 12
2. Exceptions to the general rule
(a) Continuing jurisdiction of the childs former habitual residence p. 13
(b) Jurisdiction in cases of child abduction p. 16
(c) Prorogation of jurisdiction p. 16
(d) Presence of the child p. 17
(e) Residual jurisdiction p. 18
III. Transfer to a better placed court p. 18
1. In what circumstances is it possible to transfer a case? p. 18
2. What procedure applies? p. 19
3. Certain practical aspects p. 20
IV. What happens if the same proceedings are brought in two
Member States? p. 22
V. How can a decision be recognised and enforced in another
Member State? p. 22
VI. The rules on access rights p. 24
1. Access rights are directly recognised and enforceable under the Regulation.p. 24
2. Which access rights are concerned? p. 24
3. What are the conditions for issuing a certificate? p. 24
4. When shall the judge issue the certificate? p. 25
3
(a) The access rights concern a cross-border situation p. 25
(b) The access rights do not concern a cross-border situation p. 26
5. Is it possible to appeal against the certificate? p. 26
6. What are the effects of the certificate? p. 26
7. The power of the courts in the Member State of enforcement to make practical
arrangements for the exercise of access rights p. 27
VII. The rules on child abduction p. 28
1. Jurisdiction p. 29
2. Rules to ensure the prompt return of the child p. 32
2.1. The court shall assess whether an abduction has taken place
under the terms of the Regulation p. 32
2.2. The court shall always order the return of the child if he or
she can be protected in the Member State of origin p. 32
2.3. The child and the requesting party shall have the opportunity
to be heard p. 33
2.4. The court shall issue a decision within a six-week deadline p. 33
3. What happens if the court decides that the child shall not return? p. 36
4. The court of origin is competent to deal with the substance of the case in its
entirety p. 37
5. The procedure before the court of origin p. 37
6. The abolition of exequatur for a decision of the court of origin entailing
the return of the child p. 39
7. New removal of the child to another Member State p. 40
VIII. Enforcement p. 42
IX. Hearing the child p. 42
X. Co-operation between central authorities and between courts p.43
XI. Relationship between the Regulation and the 1996 Hague
Convention on child protection p. 44
Flowcharts
Transitional provisions (Art. 64) p. 7
Continuing jurisdiction of the childs former habitual residence (Art. 9) p. 15
Possibility to transfer a case to a court better placed (Art. 15) p. 21
Jurisdiction in child abduction cases (Art. 10) p. 31
The return of the child (Art. 11) p. 35
Procedure in child abduction cases p. 41
Annex: Divorce proceedings in the European Union
Brief summary of the rules on matrimonial matters p. 47
4
Introduction
This Practice Guide concerns issues of parental responsibility within the European
Union. It has been drawn up by the European Commission in consultation with the
European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters.
From 1 March 2005, jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of decisions on parental
responsibility is governed by Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November
2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in
matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC)
No 1347/2000 (the Regulation). This Regulation was adopted on 27 November 2003
and enters into application on 1 March 2005. It repeals and replaces Council Regulation
(EC) No 1347/2000 of 29 May 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement
of judgments in matrimonial matters and in matters of parental responsibility for children
of both spouses (the Brussels II Regulation), which entered into force on 1 March
2001.
The Regulation brings together into a single text the provisions on matrimonial matters
and matters of parental responsibility. Given that the provisions on matrimonial matters
have been carried over from the Brussels II Regulation practically unchanged, the
Practice Guide deals only with the provisions concerning matters of parental
responsibility. A brief summary of the rules on matrimonial matters can be found in the
attached Annex. For the purpose of this Guide, the word divorce is used for simplicity
and is intended to encompass all matrimonial matters (divorce, legal separation and
marriage annulment).
It seeks to give guidance to parties, judges, lawyers, notaries and central authorities. It
also gives certain advice to Member States how best to ensure its implementation.
The Practice Guide is not legally binding, and does not prejudge any opinion given by
the European Court of Justice, or any decision issued by national courts, concerning the
interpretation of the Regulation.
5
I. Scope of application
1. Commencement provisions and geographical scope
In which States and from what date does the Regulation apply?
(a) General rule
Article 72
The Regulation applies as of 1 March 2005 in all Member States of the European Union,
with the exception of Denmark. It applies in the ten Member States which joined the
European Union on 1 May 2004. The Regulation is directly applicable in the Member
States and prevails over national law.
Article 64
The Regulation applies in its entirety to:
- relevant legal proceedings instituted and
- documents formally drawn up or registered as authentic instruments and
- agreements concluded between parties
after 1 March 2005 (Article 64(1)).
(b) Transitional rules
The rules on recognition and enforcement of the Regulation apply, in relation to legal
proceedings instituted before 1 March 2005, to three categories of judgments:
(a) Judgments given on and after 1 March 2005 in proceedings instituted before that
date but after the date of entry into force of the Brussels II Regulation (Article
64(2));
(b) Judgments given before 1 March 2005 in proceedings instituted after the date of
entry into force of the Brussels II Regulation in cases falling under the scope of
the Brussels II Regulation (Article 64(3));
(c) Judgments given before 1 March 2005 but after the entry into force of the
Brussels II Regulation in proceedings instituted before the date of entry into
force of the Brussels II Regulation (Article 64(4)).
6
The Brussels II Regulation entered into force on 1 March 2001.
With regard to the ten new Member States which joined the European Union on 1 May
2004, the relevant date to determine the entry into force of the Brussels II Regulation is 1
May 2004.
Judgments falling under categories (a) to (c) are recognised and enforced pursuant to
Chapter III of the Regulation under certain conditions:
C the court that handed down the judgment founded its jurisdiction on rules which
accord with the Regulation, the Brussels II Regulation or a convention which is
applicable between the Member State of origin and the Member State of enforcement ;
C and, for judgments given before 1 March 2005, provided they relate to divorce, legal
separation or marriage annulment or parental responsibility for the children of both
spouses on the occasion of these matrimonial proceedings.
It should be noted that Chapter III on recognition and enforcement applies in its entirety
to these judgments, including the new rules in Section 4 thereof which dispenses with the
exequatur procedure for certain types of judgments (see chapters VI and VII).
Example:
A divorce proceeding is instituted before a court in Member State A on 1 December 2002
pursuant to the Brussels II Regulation. The court is on this occasion also seized with the question
of parental responsibility over the children of the spouses. The court issues a judgment on 1
January 2004 conferring custody on the mother and access rights on the father. The mother
subsequently moves to Member State B with the children.
Situation 1: If Member States A and B are both old Member States, the transitional rule in
Article 64(3) allows the father to request that the access rights are directly recognised and
enforceable in Member State B without the need for an exequatur procedure pursuant to Chapter
III Section 4 of the Regulation, even though the legal proceedings were instituted before 1 March
2005.
Situation 2: If at least one of these two Member States is a new Member State, none of the
transitional rules of Article 64 applies, since the judgment was issued on 1 January 2004, i.e.
before the entry into force of the Brussels II Regulation vis--vis the new Member States.
7
Transitional provisions (Article 64)
Does the case concern :
a) a legal proceeding instituted or
b) an authentic instrument drawn up or
c) an agreement concluded by the parties
after 1 March 2005 ?
YES
The Regulation applies in its entirety (Art. 64(1)).
NO
Does the case concern a judgment given after 1 March 2005
in proceedings instituted after the date of entry into force of the Brussels II Regulation
and
is jurisdiction founded on rules which accord with the Regulation, the Brussels II
Regulation or a convention in force between the Member State of origin and the Member
State of enforcement?
YES
The judgment is recognised and enforceable pursuant
to Chapter III of the Regulation (Art.64(2)).
NO
Does the case concern a judgment given before 1 March 2005 in
proceedings instituted after date of entry into force of the Brussels II Regulation in a case
falling under the scope of the Brussels II Regulation?
YES
The judgment is recognised and enforceable pursuant
to Chapter III of the Regulation (Art.64(3)).
NO
Does the case concern a judgment given before 1 March 2005 but after the date of entry
into force of the Brussels II Regulation in proceedings instituted before the date of entry
into force of the Brussels II Regulation in a case falling under the scope of the Brussels II
Regulation?
and
is jurisdiction founded on rules which accord with the Regulation, the Brussels II
Regulation or a convention in force between the Member State of origin and the Member
State of enforcement?
NO YES
The Regulation does not apply. The decision is recognised and enforced
pursuant to Chapter III of the Regulation
(Art.64(4)).
8
2. Material scope
2.1. Which matters are covered by the Regulation?
(a) Matters covered by the Regulation
The Regulation lays down rules on jurisdiction (Chapter II), recognition and enforcement
(Chapter III) and co-operation between central authorities (Chapter IV) in the field of
parental responsibility. It contains specific rules on child abduction and access rights.
􀂾 The Regulation applies to all civil matters concerning the attribution, exercise,
delegation, restriction or termination of parental responsibility.
Articles 1(1) (b), 1(2) and 2(7)
The term parental responsibility is widely defined and covers all rights and duties of a
holder of parental responsibility relating to the person or the property of the child. This
encompasses not only rights of custody and rights of access, but also matters such as
guardianship and the placement of a child in a foster family or in institutional care. The
holder of parental responsibility may be a natural or a legal person.
The list of matters qualified as parental responsibility pursuant to the Regulation in
Article 1(2) is not exhaustive, but merely illustrative.
In contrast to the 1996 Hague Convention on child protection (See chapter XI), the
Regulation does not define a maximum age for the children who are covered by the
Regulation, but leaves this question to national law. Although decisions on parental
responsibility concern in most cases minors below the age of 18, persons below 18 years
may be subject to emancipation under national law, in particular if they marry. Decisions
issued with regard to these persons do not in principle qualify as matters of parental
responsibility and consequently fall outside the scope of the Regulation.
􀂾 The Regulation applies to civil matters.
Article 1(1) and (2) and Recital 7
The Regulation applies to civil matters. The concept of civil matters is broadly
defined for the purposes of the Regulation and covers all matters listed in Article 1(2).
Where a specific matter of parental responsibility is a public law measure according to
national law, e.g. the placement of a child in a foster family or in institutional care, the
Regulation shall apply.
9
􀂾 The Regulation applies to protective measures concerning the property of the
child
Article 1(2)(c), (e) and Recital 9
When a child owns property, it may be necessary to take certain protective measures, e.g.
to appoint a person or a body to assist and represent the child with regard to the property.
The Regulation applies to any protective measure that may be necessary for the
administration or sale of the property. Such measures may be necessary if, for instance,
the childs parents are in dispute as regards such a question.
In contrast, measures that relate to the childs property, but which do not concern the
protection of the child, are not covered by the Regulation, but by Council Regulation No.
44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of
judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Brussels I Regulation). It is for the
judge to assess in the individual case whether a measure relating to the childs property
concerns the protection of the child or not. Whilst the Regulation applies to protective
measures, it does not apply to measures taken as a result of criminal offences committed
by children (Recital 10).
(b) Matters excluded from the Regulation
Article 1(3)and Recital 10
Article 1(3) enumerates those matters which are excluded from the scope of the
Regulation even though they may be closely linked to matters of parental responsibility
(e.g. adoption, emancipation, the name and forenames of the child).
Recital 11
􀂾 The Regulation does not apply to maintenance obligations
Maintenance obligations and parental responsibility are often dealt with in the same court
proceeding. Maintenance obligations are, however, not covered by the Regulation, since
they are already governed by the Brussels I Regulation. A court which is competent
pursuant to the Regulation will nevertheless generally have jurisdiction to rule also on
maintenance matters by application of Article 5(2) of the Brussels I Regulation. This
provision allows a court which is competent to deal with a matter of parental
responsibility also to decide upon maintenance if that question is ancillary to the question
of parental responsibility. Although the two issues would be dealt with in the same
proceeding, the resultant decision would be recognised and enforced according to
different rules. The part of the decision relating to maintenance would be recognised and
enforced in another Member State pursuant to the rules of the Brussels I Regulation
whereas the part of the decision relating to parental responsibility would be recognised
and enforced pursuant to the rules of the new Brussels II Regulation.
10
2.2. Which decisions are covered by the Regulation?
􀂾 The Regulation applies to all decisions on parental responsibility.
Article 1(1)(b) and Recital 5
In contrast to the Brussels II Regulation, the present Regulation applies to all decisions
issued by a court of a Member State in matters of parental responsibility.
The Brussels II Regulation applied to decisions on parental responsibility only to the
extent that they were issued in the context of a matrimonial proceeding and concerned
children common to both spouses. In order to ensure equality for all children, the scope
of this Regulation extends to cover all decisions on parental responsibility, regardless of
whether the parents are or were married and whether the parties to the proceedings are or
are not both biological parents of the child in question.
􀂾 The Regulation is not confined to court judgments.
Article 2(1) and (4)
The Regulation applies to court judgments, whatever the judgment may be called
(decree, order, decision etc.). However, it is not limited to decisions issued by courts, but
applies to any decision pronounced by an authority having jurisdiction in matters falling
under the Regulation (e.g. social authorities).
􀂾 The Regulation applies to authentic instruments.
Article 46
Furthermore, the Regulation applies to documents which have been formally drawn up or
registered as authentic instruments and which are enforceable in the Member State in
which they were drawn up or registered. Such documents, which are to be recognised
and declared enforceable in other Member States under the same conditions as a
judgment, include, for example, documents drawn up by notaries.
􀂾 The Regulation applies to agreements between parties.
Article 46
An innovative feature of the Regulation is that it also covers agreements concluded
between parties to the extent that they are enforceable in the Member State in which they
were concluded. The aim is to encourage parties to reach agreement on matters of
parental responsibility outside court. Hence, an agreement is to be recognised and
enforceable in other Member States under the same conditions as a judgment provided
that it is enforceable in the Member State in which it is concluded, irrespective of
whether it is a private agreement between the parties or an agreement concluded before
an authority.
11
2.3. The Regulation does not prevent courts from taking provisional,
including protective, measures in urgent cases.
Article 20
Article 20 enables a court to take provisional, including protective, measures in
accordance with its national law in respect of a child situated on its territory even if a
court of another Member State has jurisdiction as to the substance of the application. The
measure can be taken by a court or by an authority having jurisdiction in matters falling
within the scope of the Regulation (Article 2.1). A welfare authority or a youth authority
may, for instance, be competent to take provisional measures under national law.
Article 20 is not a rule which confers jurisdiction. Consequently, the provisional
measures cease to have effect when the competent court has taken the measures it
considers appropriate.
Example: A family is travelling by car from Member State A to Member State B on their
summer holiday. Once arrived in Member State B, they are victims of a traffic accident, where
they are all injured. The child is only slightly injured, but both parents arrive at the hospital in a
state of coma. The authorities of Member State B urgently need to take certain provisional
measures to protect the child who has no relatives in Member State B. The fact that the courts of
Member State A have jurisdiction under the Regulation as to the substance does not prevent the
courts or competent authorities of Member State B from deciding, on a provisional basis, to take
measures to protect the child. These measures cease to apply once the courts of Member State A
have taken a decision.
II. Which Member States courts have
jurisdiction?
The jurisdiction rules listed in Articles 8 to 14 set out a complete system of grounds of
jurisdiction to determine the Member State whose courts are competent. The Regulation
determines merely the Member State whose courts have jurisdiction, but not the court
which is competent within that Member State. This question is left to domestic
procedural law (See European Judicial Network and Judicial Atlas).
12
A court seised with a request concerning parental responsibility has to make the
following analysis:
Do I have jurisdiction pursuant to the general rule (Art. 8)?
YES NO
Do I have jurisdiction pursuant to Art. 9-10,12 or 13?
YES NO
Does a court of another Member State have
jurisdiction under the Regulation (Art. 17) ?
YES NO
I must declare of my own motion Where no court is competent
that I do not have jurisdiction under the Regulation, I can
(Art.17) exercise any jurisdiction available
under my national law (residual
jurisdiction) (Art. 14)
1. General rule C the State of the habitual residence of the child
Article 8
The fundamental principle of the Regulation is that the most appropriate forum for
matters of parental responsibility is the relevant court of the Member State of the habitual
residence of the child. The concept of habitual residence, which is increasingly used in
international instruments, is not defined by the Regulation, but has to be determined by
the judge in each case on the basis of factual elements. The meaning of the term should
be interpreted in accordance with the objectives and purposes of the Regulation.
It must be emphasised that this does not refer to any concept of habitual residence under
national law, but an autonomous notion of Community law. If a child moves from one
Member State to another, the acquisition of habitual residence in the new Member State,
should, in principle, coincide with the loss of habitual residence in the former Member
State. Consideration by the judge on a case-by-case basis implies that whilst the adjective
habitual tends to indicate a certain duration, it should not be excluded that a child
might acquire habitual residence in a Member State the very day of the arrival,
depending on the factual elements of the concrete case.
13
The question of jurisdiction is determined at the time the court is seised. Once a
competent court is seised, in principle it retains jurisdiction even if the child acquires
habitual residence in another Member State during the course of the court proceeding
(principle of perpetuatio fori). A change of habitual residence of the child while the
proceeding is pending does therefore not itself entail a change of jurisdiction.
However, if it is in the best interests of the child, Article 15 provides for the possible
transfer of the case, subject to certain conditions, to a court of the Member State to which
the child has moved (see chapter III). If a childs habitual residence changes as a result
of a wrongful removal or retention, jurisdiction may only shift under very strict
conditions (see chapter VII).
2. Exceptions to the general rule
Articles 9, 10, 12 and 13 set out the exceptions to the general rule, i.e. where jurisdiction
may lie with the courts of a Member State in which the child is not habitually resident.
(a) Continuing jurisdiction of the childs former habitual residence
Article 9
When a child moves from one Member State to another, it is often necessary to review
the access rights, or other contact arrangements, to adapt them to the new circumstances.
Article 9 is an innovative rule which encourages holders of parental responsibility to
agree upon the necessary adjustments of access rights before the move and, if this proves
impossible, to apply to the competent court to resolve the dispute. It does not in any way
prevent a person from moving within the European Community, but provides a guarantee
that the person who can no longer exercise access rights as before does not have to seise
the courts of the new Member State, but can apply for an appropriate adjustment of
access rights before the court that granted them during a period of three months
following the move. The courts of the new Member State do not have jurisdiction in
matters of access rights during this period.
Article 9 is subject to the following conditions:
􀂾 The courts of the Member State of origin must have issued a decision on
access rights.
Article 9 applies only to the situation where a holder of access rights wishes to modify a
previous decision on access rights. If no decision on access rights has been issued by the
courts in the Member State of origin, Article 9 does not apply, but the other jurisdiction
rules come into play. The courts of the new Member State would have jurisdiction
pursuant to Article 8 to decide on matters of access rights once the child acquires
habitual residence in that State.
􀂾 It applies only to lawful moves.
It must be determined whether, according to any judicial decision or the law applied in
the Member State of origin (including its rules on private international law), the holder of
parental responsibility is allowed to move with the child to another Member State
14
without the consent of the other holder of parental responsibility. If the removal is
unlawful, Article 9 does not apply, but Article 10 comes into play (see chapter VII). If,
on the other hand, the unilateral decision to change the childs habitual residence is
lawful, Article 9 applies if the conditions set out below are fulfilled.
􀂾 It applies only during the three-month period following the childs move.
The three-month period is to be calculated from the date the child physically moved from
the Member State of origin. The date of the move should not be confused with the date
when the child acquires habitual residence in the new Member State. If a court in the
Member State of origin is seised after the expiry of the three-month period from the date
of the move, it does not have jurisdiction under Article 9.
􀂾 The child must have acquired habitual residence in the new Member State
during the three-month period.
Article 9 applies only if the child has acquired habitual residence in the new Member
State during the three-month period. If the child has not acquired habitual residence
within that period, the courts of the Member State of origin would, in principle, retain
jurisdiction pursuant to Article 8.
􀂾 The holder of access rights must still have habitual residence in the Member
State of origin.
If the holder of access rights has ceased to be habitually resident in the Member State of
origin, Article 9 does not apply, but the courts of the new Member State become
competent once the child has acquired habitual residence there.
􀂾 The holder of access rights must not have accepted the change of
jurisdiction.
Since the aim of this provision is to guarantee that the holder of access rights can seise
the courts of his or her Member State, Article 9 does not apply if he or she is prepared to
accept that jurisdiction shifts to the courts of the new Member State. Hence, if the holder
of access rights participates in proceedings concerning access rights before a court in the
new Member State without contesting the jurisdiction of that court, Article 9 does not
apply and the court of the new Member State acquires jurisdiction (paragraph 2).
Similarly, Article 9 does not prevent the holder of access rights from seising the courts of
the new Member State for review of the question of access rights.
􀂾 It does not prevent the courts of the new Member State from deciding on
matters other than access rights.
Article 9 deals only with jurisdiction to rule on access rights, but does not apply to other
matters of parental responsibility, e.g. custody rights. Article 9 does not therefore prevent
a holder of parental responsibility who has moved with the child to another Member
State from seising the courts of that Member State on the question of custody rights
during the three-month period following the move.
15
Continuing jurisdiction of the childs former habitual residence (Art. 9)
Has a decision on access rights been issued by the courts in the Member State from
which the child moved (the MS of origin)?
NO
Article 9 does not apply, but the courts
of the other MS become competent once
the child acquires habitual residence
there according to Article 8.
YES
Has the child moved lawfully from the MS of origin to another Member State (the new
MS)?
NO
If the removal is unlawful, Article 9
does not apply. Instead, the rules on
child abduction apply.
YES
Has the child acquired habitual residence in the new MS within the 3 months period?
NO
Article 9 does not apply. If the child still
has habitual residence in the
MS of origin
after 3 months, the courts of that MS
remain competent according to Article 8.
YES
Does the holder of access rights still have habitual residence in the MS of origin?
NO
Article 9 does not apply.
YES
Has the holder of access rights participated in proceedings before the courts of the new
MS without contesting their competence?
YES NO
Article 9 does not apply. Article 9 applies.
16
(b) Jurisdiction in cases of child abduction
Article 10
Jurisdiction in child abduction cases is governed by a special rule (See chapter VII).
(c) Prorogation of jurisdiction
Article 12
The Regulation introduces a limited possibility to seise a court of a Member State in
which the child is not habitually resident, either because the matter is connected with a
pending divorce proceeding, or because the child has a substantial connection with that
Member State.
Article 12 covers two different situations:
Situation 1:
Jurisdiction of a divorce court in matters of parental responsibility
Article 12(1) and (2)
When divorce proceedings are pending in a Member State, the courts of that State also
have jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility connected with the divorce even if
the child concerned is not habitually resident in that Member State. This applies whether
or not the child is the child of both spouses.
The divorce court has jurisdiction provided the following conditions are met:
• At least one of the spouses has parental responsibility in relation to the child.
• The judge should determine whether, at the time the court is seised, all holders of
parental responsibility accept the jurisdiction of the divorce court, whether by formal
acceptance or unequivocal conduct.
• The jurisdiction of that court is in the superior interests of the child.
The jurisdiction of the divorce court ends as soon as:
(a) the divorce judgment has become final or
(b) a final judgment is issued in proceedings on parental responsibility which were still
pending when the divorce judgment became final or
(c) the proceedings on divorce and parental responsibility have come to an end for
another reason (e.g. the applications for divorce and parental responsibility are
withdrawn).
17
No distinction was intended by the drafters between the term superior interests of the
child (Article 12(1)(b)) and the term best interests of the child (Article 12(3)(b)) in
the English language version. Versions of the Regulation in other languages employ an
identical wording in both paragraphs.
Situation 2:
Jurisdiction of a court of a Member State with which the child has a substantial
connection
Article 12(3)
Where there are no pending divorce proceedings, the courts of a Member State may have
jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility even if the child is not habitually
resident in that Member State provided the following conditions are met:
• The child has a substantial connection with the Member State in question, in particular
because one of the holders of parental responsibility is habitually resident there or the
child is a national of that State. These conditions are not exclusive, and it is possible
to base the connection on other criteria.
• All parties to the proceedings accept the jurisdiction of that court explicitly or
otherwise unequivocally at the time the court is seised (cf. the same requirement in
situation 1).
• The jurisdiction is in the best interests of the child (as above in Article 12(1)).
Article 12(4) specifies in which circumstances jurisdiction under this Article shall be
deemed to be in the childs best interest when the child in question is habitually
resident in a third State that is not a contracting State to the 1996 Hague Convention on
Child Protection (see chapter XI).
(d) Presence of the child
Article 13
If it proves impossible to determine the habitual residence of the child and Article 12
does not apply, Article 13 allows a judge of a Member State to decide on matters of
parental responsibility with regard to children who are present in that Member State.
18
(e) Residual jurisdiction
Article 14
If no court has jurisdiction pursuant to Articles 8 to 13, the court may found its
jurisdiction on the basis of its own national rules on private international law. Such
decisions are to be recognised and declared enforceable in other Member States pursuant
to the rules of the Regulation.
III. Transfer to a better placed court
Article 15
The Regulation contains an innovative rule which allows, by way of exception, that a
court which is seised of a case transfers it to a court of another Member State if the latter
is better placed to hear the case. The court may transfer the entire case or a specific part
thereof.
According to the general rule, jurisdiction lies with the courts of the Member State of the
childs habitual residence at the time the court was seised (Article 8). Therefore,
jurisdiction does not shift automatically in a case where the child acquires habitual
residence in another Member State during the court proceedings.
However there may be circumstances where, exceptionally, the court that has been seised
(the court of origin) is not the best placed to hear the case. Article 15 allows in such
circumstances that the court of origin may transfer the case to a court of another Member
State provided this is in the best interests of the child.
Once a case has been transferred to the court of another Member State, it cannot be
further transferred to a third court (Recital 13).
1. In what circumstances is it possible to transfer a case?
The transfer is subject to the following conditions:
The child must have a particular connection with the other Member State.
Article 15(3) enumerates the five situations where such connection exists
according to the Regulation:
􀂾 the child has acquired habitual residence there after the court of origin was
seised; or
􀂾 the other Member State is the former habitual residence of the child; or
􀂾 it is the place of the childs nationality; or
􀂾 it is the habitual residence of a holder of parental responsibility; or
19
􀂾 the child owns property in the other Member State and the case concerns
measures for the protection of the child relating to the administration,
conservation or disposal of this property.
In addition, both courts must be convinced that a transfer is in the best interests of the
child. The judges should co-operate to assess this on the basis of the specific
circumstances of the case.
The transfer may take place:
• on application from a party or
• of the courts own motion, if at least one of the parties agrees or
• on application of a court of another Member State, if at least one of the parties
agrees.
2. What procedure applies?
A court which is faced with a request for a transfer or which wants to transfer the case of
its own motion has two options:
(a) It may stay the case and invite the parties to introduce a request before the court
of the other Member State
or
(b) It may directly request the court of the other Member State to take over the case.
In the former case, the court of origin shall set a time limit by which the parties shall
seise the courts of the other Member State. If the parties do not seise such other court
within the time limit, the case is not transferred and the court of origin shall continue to
exercise its jurisdiction. The Regulation does not prescribe a specific time limit, but it
should be sufficiently short to ensure that the transfer does not result in unnecessary
delays to the detriment of the child and the parties. The court which has received the
request for a transfer must decide, within six weeks of being seised, whether or not to
accept the transfer. The relevant question should be whether, in the specific case, a
transfer would be in the best interests of the child. The central authorities can play an
important role by providing information to the judges on the situation in the other
Member State. The assessment should be based on the principle of mutual trust and on
the assumption that the courts of all Member States are in principle competent to deal
with a case.
If the second court declines jurisdiction or, within six weeks of being seised, does not
accept jurisdiction, the court of origin retains jurisdiction and must exercise it.
20
3. Certain practical aspects
􀂾 How does a judge, who would like to transfer a case, find out which is the
competent court of the other Member State?
The European Judicial Atlas in Civil Matters can be used to find the competent court of
the other Member State. The Judicial Atlas identifies the territorially competent court in
the different Member States with contact details of the different courts (name, telephone,
e-mail, etc.) (See Judicial Atlas). The central authorities appointed under the Regulation
can also assist the judges in finding the competent court in the other Member State (see
chapter X).
􀂾 How should the judges communicate?
Article 15 states that the courts shall co-operate, either directly or through the central
authorities, for the purpose of the transfer. It may be particularly useful for the judges
concerned to communicate to assess whether in the specific case the requirements for a
transfer are fulfilled, in particular if it would be in the best interests of the child. If the
two judges speak and/or understand a common language, they should not hesitate to
contact each other directly by telephone or e-mail. Other forms of modern technology
may be useful, e.g. conference calls. If there are language problems, the judges may rely
on interpreters. The central authorities will also be able to assist the judges.
The judges will wish to keep the parties and their legal advisers informed, but it will be a
matter for the judges to decide for themselves what procedures and safeguards are
appropriate in the context of the particular case.
The courts may also co-operate through the central authorities.
􀂾 Who is responsible for the translation of documents?
The mechanisms of translation are not covered by Article 15. The judges should try to
find a pragmatic solution which corresponds to the needs and circumstances of each case.
Subject to the procedural law of the State addressed, translation may not be necessary if
the case is transferred to a judge who understands the language of the case. If a
translation proves necessary, it could be limited to the most important documents. The
central authorities may also be able to assist in providing informal translations (See
chapter X).
21
ARTICLE 15:
Transfer to a better placed court
When a court in a Member State (MS A") has been seised of a case pursuant to Articles 8 to
14 of the Regulation, it may, as an exception, transfer it to a court of another Member State
(MS B), if the following conditions are met:
NO
The case cannot be transferred.
YES
YES NO
The case cannot be transferred.
YES NO
The case cannot be transferred.
YES NO
The case cannot be transferred.
or
YES NO
The court of MS B shall decline jurisdiction. The court of
MS A shall continue to exercise its jurisdiction.
Does the child have one of the « particular connections »
listed in Article 15(3) with MS B?
Has the court of MS A received a request from a party or a court
of MS B or does it wish to transfer the case of its own motion?
Does the court of MS A consider a transfer
to be in the best interests of the child?
Does at least one party accept the transfer?
The court of MS A has two options:
It requests a court in MS B to take over
the case.
It stays the case and invites the parties to seise a
court in MS B within a certain time-limit.
Does the court in MS B
consider a transfer to be in
the best interest of the child?
The court in MS B is
seised within the time-limit
The court in MS B is not
seised within the time-limit
The court of MS B shall accept
jurisdiction within 6 weeks.
The court in MS A shall
continue to exercise its
jurisdiction.
22
IV. What happens if the same proceedings are
brought in two Member States?
Article 19(2)
It may happen that parties initiate court proceedings on parental responsibility
concerning the same child and the same cause of action in different Member States. This
may result in parallel actions and consequently the possibility of irreconcilable
judgments on the same issue.
Article 19(2) regulates the situation where proceedings relating to parental responsibility
are brought in different Member States concerning:
􀂾 the same child and
􀂾 the same cause of action
In that situation, Article 19(2) stipulates that the court first seised is, in principle,
competent. The court second seised has to stay its proceedings and wait for the other
court to decide whether it has jurisdiction. If the first court considers itself competent, the
other court must decline jurisdiction. The second court may only continue its proceedings
if the first court comes to the conclusion that it does not have jurisdiction or if the first
court decides to transfer the case pursuant to Article 15.
It is expected that the lis pendens mechanism will be rarely used in proceedings relating
to parental responsibility since the child is usually habitually resident in only one
Member State in which the courts have jurisdiction according to the general rule of
jurisdiction (Article 8).
The Regulation provides for another way of avoiding potential conflicts of jurisdiction
by allowing a transfer of the case. Hence, Article 15 allows a court, as an exception and
under certain conditions, to transfer a case, or a part thereof, to another court (see chapter
III).
V. How can a decision be recognised and
enforced in another Member State?
Articles 21, 23-39
Any interested party may request that a judgment on parental responsibility, issued by a
court of a Member State, shall be or not be recognised and be declared enforceable in
another Member State (exequatur procedure).
The request shall be made to the competent court in the Member State in which
recognition and enforcement is sought. The courts designated by the Member States for
this purpose are found in list 1. This court shall declare, without delay, that the judgment
23
is enforceable in that Member State. Neither the person against whom enforcement is
sought, nor the child, is entitled to submit observations to the court.
The court shall only refuse to declare the judgment enforceable if:
• this would be manifestly contrary to the public policy in the Member State
addressed;
• the child has not been given the opportunity to be heard except in case of
urgency;
• the judgment was given in the absence of a person who was not served with the
documents instituting the proceedings in sufficient time and in such a way as to
enable him or her to arrange for his or her defence, unless it is determined that
he or she has accepted the judgment unequivocally;
• the person claiming that the judgment infringes his or her parental responsibility
has not been given an opportunity to be heard;
• the judgment is irreconcilable with another judgment, in the conditions set out in
Article 23(e)(f);
• the case concerns the placement of a child in another Member State and the
procedure prescribed in Article 56 has not been complied with.
The parties may appeal against the decision. The appeal shall be lodged with the courts
designated by the Member States for this purpose which can be found in list 2. Both
parties may submit comments to the court at this stage.
When applying for exequatur, a person is entitled to legal aid if he or she was so entitled
in his or her Member State of origin (Article 50). Such a person may also be assisted by
the central authorities, which shall have the role of informing and assisting holders of
parental responsibility who seek the recognition and enforcement of a decision on
parental responsibility in another Member State (Article 55(b)).
The procedure described above has been carried over from the Brussels II Regulation. It
applies to decisions on parental responsibility, e.g. in matters of custody rights. There
are, however, two exceptions where the Regulation dispenses with this procedure and
where a decision is to be recognised and enforceable in other Member States without any
procedure. The exceptions concern access rights (See chapter VI) and the return of the
child following abduction (See chapter VII).
24
VI. The rules on access rights
1. Access rights are directly recognised and enforceable under
the Regulation
Articles 40,41
One of the main objectives of the Regulation is to ensure that a child can maintain
contact with all holders of parental responsibility after a separation even when they live
in different Member States. The Regulation will facilitate the exercise of cross-border
access rights by ensuring that a judgment on access rights issued in one Member State is
directly recognised and enforceable in another Member State provided it is accompanied
by a certificate. The consequence of this new rule is two-fold: (a) it is no longer
necessary to apply for an exequatur and (b) it is no longer possible to oppose the
recognition of the judgment. The judgment is to be certified in the Member State of
origin provided certain procedural safeguards have been respected. The new procedure
does not prevent holders of parental responsibility from seeking recognition and
enforcement of a judgment by applying for exequatur under the relevant parts of the
Regulation if they wish to do so (Article 40(2)) (See chapter V).
2. Which access rights are concerned?
Access rights include in particular the right to take a child to a place other than the
habitual residence for a limited period of time (Article 2(10)).
The new rules on access rights apply to any access rights, irrespective of who is the
beneficiary thereof. According to national law access rights may be attributed to the
parent with whom the child does not reside, or to other family members, such as
grandparents or third persons.
Access rights include all forms of contacts between the child and the other person,
including for instance contact by telephone or e-mail.
The new rules on recognition and enforcement apply only to judgments that grant access
rights. Conversely, decisions that refuse a request for access rights are governed by the
general rules on recognition.
3. What are the conditions for issuing a certificate?
A judgment on access rights is directly recognised and enforceable in another Member
State provided it is accompanied by a certificate, which shall be issued by the judge of
origin who issued the judgment. The certificate guarantees that certain procedural
safeguards have been respected during the procedure in the Member State of origin.
Articles 40,41
and Annex III
25
The judge of origin shall issue the certificate once he/she has verified that the
following procedural safeguards have been respected:
􀂾 all parties have been given the opportunity to be heard;
􀂾 the child has been given an opportunity to be heard, unless a hearing was
considered inappropriate having regard to the age and maturity of the child;
􀂾 where the judgment was given in default, the defaulting party has been served
with the document instituting the proceedings in sufficient time and in a manner
enabling that person to prepare his or her defence, or if the person was served
with the document but not in compliance with these conditions, it is nevertheless
established that the person has accepted the judgment unequivocally.
The judge of origin shall issue the certificate by using the standard form in Annex III in
the language of the judgment. The certificate not only indicates whether the abovementioned
procedural safeguards have been respected, but it also contains information of
a practical nature, intended to facilitate the enforcement of the judgment (e.g. the names
and addresses of the holders of parental responsibility and the children concerned, any
practical arrangements for the exercise of access rights, any specific obligations on the
holder of access rights or the other parent and any restrictions that may be attached to the
exercise of access rights). All obligations mentioned in the certificate concerning access
rights are, in principle, directly enforceable pursuant to the new rules.
Although this is not regulated in the Regulation, judges may consider that it would be
good practice to include in their judgment a description of the reasons why a child has
not been given an opportunity to be heard.
If the procedural safeguards have not been respected, the decision will not be directly
recognised and declared enforceable in other Member States, but the parties will have to
apply for an exequatur to this end (see chapter V).
4. When shall the judge of origin issue the certificate?
Article 41(1),(3)
This depends on whether, at the time that the judgment is delivered, the access rights are
likely to be exercised in a cross-border context.
(a) The access rights involve a cross-border situation
If, at the time the judgment is issued, the access rights concern a cross-border situation,
e.g. because one of the parents is a resident of or plans to move to another Member State,
the judge shall issue the certificate of his/her own initiative (ex officio) when the
judgment becomes enforceable, even if only provisionally.
26
The national laws of many Member States provide that judgments on parental
responsibility are enforceable notwithstanding appeal. If national law does not enable
a judgment to be enforceable, whilst an appeal against it is pending, the Regulation
confers this right on the judge of origin. The aim is to prevent dilatory appeals from
unduly delaying the enforcement of a decision.
(b) The access rights do not involve a cross-border situation
If, at the time the judgment is delivered, there is no indication that the access rights will
be exercised across national borders, the judge is not obliged to deliver the certificate.
However, if the circumstances of the case indicate there is an actual or potential chance
that the access rights will have a cross-border character, judges may consider it good
practice to issue the certificate at the same time as the judgment. This could, for instance,
be the case where the court in question is situated close to the border of another Member
State or where the holders of parental responsibility are of different nationalities.
If the situation subsequently acquires an international aspect, e.g. because one of the
holders of parental responsibility moves to another Member State, either party may at
that time request the court of origin that delivered the judgment to issue a certificate.
5. Is it possible to appeal against the certificate?
Article 43 and Recital 24
No, it is not possible to appeal against the issuing of a certificate. If the judge of origin
has committed an error in filling in the certificate and it does not correctly reflect the
judgment, it is possible to make a request for rectification to the court of origin. The
national law of the Member State of origin shall apply in that case.
6. What are the effects of the certificate?
Articles 41(1), 45
􀂾 A judgment on access rights, which is accompanied by a certificate, is directly
recognised and enforceable in other Member States
The fact that the judgment on access rights is accompanied by a certificate entails that the
holder of access rights may request that the decision is recognised and enforced in
another Member State without any intermediate procedure (exequatur). In addition,
27
the other party may not oppose the recognition of the judgment. Consequently, the
grounds of non-recognition listed in Article 23 do not apply to these judgments.
A party who wishes to request the enforcement of access rights in another Member State
shall produce a copy of the judgment and the certificate. It is not necessary to translate
the certificate, with the exception of point 12 concerning the practical arrangements for
the exercise of access rights.
􀂾 The certificate ensures that the judgment is treated in the other Member State as a
judgment issued in that Member State for the purpose of recognition and
enforcement
Articles 44, 47
The fact that a judgment is directly recognised and enforceable in another Member State
means that it is to be treated as a national judgment and be recognised and enforced
under the same conditions as a judgment issued in that Member State. If a party does not
comply with a judgment on access rights, the other party may directly request the
authorities in the Member State of enforcement to enforce it. The enforcement procedure
is not governed by the Regulation, but by national law (See chapter VIII).
7. The power of the courts in the Member State of enforcement
to make practical arrangements for the exercise of access
rights
Article 48
Enforcement can be rendered difficult or even impossible if the judgment contains no or
insufficient information on the arrangements of access rights. To ensure that the access
rights can nevertheless be enforced in such situations, the Regulation gives the courts of
the Member State of enforcement the power to make the necessary practical
arrangements for organising the exercise of access rights, whilst respecting the essential
elements of the judgment.
Article 48 does not confer jurisdiction as to the substance on the court of enforcement.
The practical arrangements ordered pursuant to this provision cease therefore to apply
once a court of the Member State having jurisdiction as to the substance of the matter has
issued a judgment.
28
VII. The rules on child abduction
Articles 10, 11, 40, 42, 55
The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the civil aspects of international child
abduction (the 1980 Hague Convention), which has been ratified by all Member States,
will continue to apply in the relations between Member States. However, the 1980 Hague
Convention is supplemented by certain provisions of the Regulation, which come into
play in cases of child abduction between Member States. The rules of the Regulation
prevail over the rules of the Convention in relations between Member States in matters
covered by the Regulation.
The Regulation aims at deterring parental child abduction between Member States and, if
such nevertheless take place, ensuring the prompt return of the child to his or her
Member State of origin. For the purpose of the Regulation, child abduction covers both
wrongful removal and wrongful retention (Article 2(11)). What follows applies to cases
both situations.
Where a child is abducted from one Member State (the Member State of origin) to
another Member State (the requested Member State), the Regulation ensures that the
courts of the Member State of origin retain jurisdiction to decide on the question of
custody notwithstanding the abduction. Once a request for the return of the child is
lodged before a court in the requested Member State, this court applies the 1980 Hague
Convention as complemented by the Regulation. If the court of the requested Member
State decides that the child shall not return, it shall immediately transmit a copy of its
decision to the competent court of the Member State of origin. This court may examine a
question on custody at the request of a party. If the court takes a decision entailing the
return of the child, this decision is directly recognised and enforceable in the requested
Member State without the need for exequatur. (See flowchart on p. 41)
The main principles of the new rules on child abduction
1. Jurisdiction remains with the courts of Member State of origin (see chart p. 31).
2. The courts of the requested Member State shall ensure the prompt return of the
child (see chart p. 35)
3. If the court of the requested Member State decides not to return the child, it must
transmit a copy of its decision to the competent court in Member State of origin,
which shall notify the parties. The two courts shall co-operate (see chart p. 40)
4. If the court of the Member State of origin decides that the child shall return,
exequatur is abolished for this decision and it is directly enforceable in the
requested Member State (see chart on p. 40).
5. The central authorities of the Member State of origin and the requested Member
State shall co-operate and assist the courts in their tasks.
29
As a general remark, it is appropriate to recall that the complexity and nature of the
issues addressed in the various international instruments in the field of child abduction
calls for specialised or well-trained judges. Although the organisation of courts falls
outside the scope of the Regulation, the experiences of Member States which have
concentrated jurisdiction to hear cases under the 1980 Hague Convention in a limited
number of courts or judges are positive and show an increase of quality and efficiency.
1. Jurisdiction
Article 10
To deter parental child abduction between Member States, Article 10 ensures that the
courts of the Member State where the child was habitually resident before the abduction
(Member State of origin) remain competent to decide on the substance of the case also
after the abduction. Jurisdiction may be attributed to the courts of the new Member State
(the requested Member State) only under very strict conditions (see flowchart p. 31).
The Regulation allows for the attribution of jurisdiction to the courts of the
requested Member State in two situations only:
Situation 1:
􀂾 The child has acquired habitual residence in the requested Member State
and
􀂾 All those with rights of custody have acquiesced in the abduction.
OR
Situation 2:
􀂾 The child has acquired habitual residence in the requested Member State and has
resided in that Member State for at least one year after those with rights of custody
learned or should have learned of the whereabouts of the child
and
􀂾 the child has settled in the new environment
and, additionally, at least one of the following conditions is met:
􀂾 no request for the return of the child has been lodged within the year after the leftbehind
parent knew or should have known the whereabouts of the child;
􀂾 a request for return was made but has been withdrawn and no new request has
been lodged within that year;
30
􀂾 a decision on non-return has been issued in the requested State and the courts of
both Member States have taken the requisite steps under Article 11(6), but the
case has been closed pursuant to Article 11(7) because the parties have not made
submissions within 3 months of notification;
􀂾 the competent court of origin has issued a judgment on custody which does not
entail the return of the child.
31
Article 10:
Jurisdiction in child abduction cases
Example: A child is abducted from Member State A to Member State B. Which court
has jurisdiction to decide on the substance of the case?
_____________________________________________________
SITUATION 1:
NO YES
_____________________________________________________________
SITUATION 2:
and, one of the four following conditions is fulfilled:
NO YES
__________________________________________________________
The courts
of
Member
State A
have
jurisdiction
The courts
of
Member
State B
have
jurisdiction
The child has acquired habitual
residence in Member State B
and all those with rights of
custody acquiesce in the
abduction.
The child has acquired habitual
residence and resided in Member
State B for more than 1 year since
those with rights of custody learned
or should have learned of the
whereabouts of the child
and
the child is settled in his/her new
environment
• The relevant holder of rights of custody
has not requested the return of the
child within a year after he/she
learned or should have learned of the
whereabouts of the child or
• the custody holder has withdrawn a
request for return within a year and no
new request has been lodged within
that time or
• a court of Member State B has decided
that the child shall not return and has
transmitted a copy of its decision to the
competent court in Member State A,
but none of the parties has requested
the latter court to examine the case
within the time-scale set by Article
11(7) or
• upon request of a party, the court of
Member State A has issued a
judgment on custody which does not
entail the return of the child.
32
2. Rules to ensure the prompt return of the child
Article 11(1)-(5)
When a court of a Member State receives a request for the return of a child pursuant to
the 1980 Hague Convention, it shall apply the rules of the Convention as complemented
by Article 11 (1) to (5) of the Regulation (see flowchart p. 35). To this end, the judge
may find it useful to consult the relevant case-law under this Convention which is
available at the INCADAT database set up by the Hague Conference on Private
International Law. The explanatory report and the Practice Guides concerning this
Convention can also be of use (see website of the Hague Conference on Private
International Law).
2.1. The court shall assess whether an abduction has taken place under the terms of
the Regulation Article 2(11)(a),(b)
The judge shall first determine whether a wrongful removal or retention has taken
place in the sense of the Regulation. The definition in Article 2(11) is very similar to the
definition of the 1980 Hague Convention (Article 3) and covers a removal or retention of
a child in breach of custody rights under the law of the Member State where the child
was habitually resident before the abduction. However, the Regulation adds that custody
is to be considered to be exercised jointly when one of the holders of parental
responsibility cannot decide on the childs place of residence without the consent of the
other holder of parental responsibility. As a result, a removal of a child from one
Member State to another without the consent of the relevant person constitutes child
abduction under the Regulation. If the removal is lawful under national law, Article 9 of
the Regulation may apply.
2.2. The court shall always order the return of the child if he or she can be protected in
the Member State of origin Article 11(4)
The Regulation reinforces the principle that the court shall order the immediate return of
the child by restricting the exceptions of Article 13(b) of the 1980 Hague Convention to a
strict minimum. The principle is that the child shall always be returned if he/she can be
protected in the Member State of origin.
Article 13(b) of the 1980 Hague Convention stipulates that the court is not obliged to
order the return if it would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or put
him/her in an intolerable situation. The Regulation goes a step further by extending the
obligation to order the return of the child to cases where a return could expose the child
to such harm, but it is nevertheless established that the authorities in the Member State of
origin have made or are prepared to make adequate arrangements to secure the protection
of the child after the return.
The court must examine this on the basis of the facts of the case. It is not sufficient that
procedures exist in the Member State of origin for the protection of the child, but it must
be established that the authorities in the Member State of origin have taken concrete
measures to protect the child in question.
33
It will generally be difficult for the judge to assess the factual circumstances in the
Member State of origin. The assistance of the central authorities of the Member State of
origin will be vital to assess whether or not protective measures have been taken in that
country and whether they will adequately secure the protection of the child upon his or
her return. (see chapter X).
2.3. The child and the requesting party shall have the opportunity to be heard
Article 11(2),(5)
The Regulation reinforces the right of the child to be heard during the procedure. Hence,
the court shall give the child the opportunity to be heard unless the judge considers it
inappropriate due to the childs age and degree of maturity. (See chapter IX).
In addition, the court cannot refuse to return the child without first giving the person who
requested the return the opportunity to be heard. Having regard to the strict time-limit,
the hearing shall be carried out in the quickest and most efficient manner available. One
possibility is to use the arrangements laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 on
cooperation between the courts of the Member States in taking of evidence in civil or
commercial matters (the Evidence Regulation). This Regulation, which applies as of 1
January 2004, facilitates the co-operation between courts of different Member States in
the taking of evidence in e.g. family law matters. A court may either request the
competent court of another Member State to take evidence or take evidence directly in
the other Member State. Given that the court must decide within 6 weeks on the return of
the child, the request must necessarily be executed without any delay, and considerably
within the general 90 days time limit, prescribed by Article 10(1) of the Evidence
Regulation. The use of video-conference and tele-conference, which is proposed in
Article 10(4) of the above Regulation, could be particularly useful to take evidence in
these cases.
2.4. The court shall issue a decision within a six-week deadline Article 11(3)
The court must apply the most expeditious procedures available under national law and
issue a decision within six weeks from being seised with the request (a link to a list of the
applicable procedures of the different Member States will be added). This time limit may
only be exceeded if exceptional circumstances make it impossible to respect.
With regard to decisions ordering the return of the child, Article 11(3) does not specify
that such decisions, which are to be given within six weeks, shall be enforceable within
the same period. However, this is the only interpretation which would effectively
guarantee the objective of ensuring the prompt return of the child within the strict timelimit.
This objective could be undermined if national law allows for the possibility for
appeal of a return order and meanwhile suspends the enforceability of that decision,
without imposing any time-limit on the appeal procedure.
For these reasons, national law should seek to ensure that a return order issued within the
prescribed six week time-limit is enforceable. The way to achieve this goal is a matter
of national law. Different procedures may be envisaged to this end, e.g.:
34
(a) National law may preclude the possibility of an appeal against a decision
entailing the return of the child, or
(b) National law may allow for the possibility for appeal, but provide that a decision
entailing the return of the child is enforceable pending any appeal.
(c) In the event that national law allows for the possibility of appeal, and suspends
the enforceability of the decision, the Member States should put in place
procedures to ensure an accelerated hearing of the appeal so as to ensure the
respect of the six-week dead-line.
The procedures described above should apply mutatis mutandis also to non-return orders
in order to minimise the risk of parallel proceedings and contradictory decisions. A
situation could otherwise arise where a party appeals against a decision on non-return
that is issued just before the six weeks deadline elapses and at the same time requests the
competent court of origin to examine the case.
35
The return of the child
NB: The rules of the Regulation (Art. 11(2 to 5)) prevail over the relevant rules of
the Convention.
Article 12:
The court of the MS to which the child has
been abducted (the court) shall in principle
order the immediate return of the child if less
than a year has elapsed from the
abduction.
Article 13(1)(b):
The court is not obliged to order the return if
there is a grave risk that the return would
expose the child to physical or psychological
harm or otherwise place the child in an
intolerable situation.
Article 13(2):
The court is not obliged to order the return of
the child if he or she objects and has attained a
certain age and maturity.
(no provision)
Article 11:
The court shall act expeditiously for the return
of the child. If the court has not reached a
decision within 6 weeks, it may be requested to
state the reasons for its delay.
Article 11 (2 to 5):
The Regulation confirms and reinforces this
principle.
Article 11(4):
The court must order the return of the child
even if it would put the child at risk, if it is
established that the authorities in the MS of
origin will secure the protection of the child
upon his/her return.
Article 11(2):
The court shall ensure that the child is given an
opportunity to be heard, unless it is
inappropriate having regard to the childs age
and maturity.
Article 11(5):
The court cannot refuse to return the child
unless the person who requested the return
has been given an opportunity to be heard.
Article 11(3):
The court shall use the most expeditious
procedures available in national law. The court
shall issue its decision within 6 weeks from
when the application is lodged, unless this
proves impossible due to exceptional
circumstances.
Relevant rules of the
1980 Hague Convention
Relevant rules of the
Regulation
The obligation to order
the return of the child
The exception to this
obligation
Hearing the child
The hearing of the nonabducting
custody holder
The time limit for
handling requests for
return
36
3. What happens if the court decides that the child shall not return?
Article 11 (6)-(7)
􀂾 The competent court shall transmit a copy of the decision on non-return to
the competent court in the Member State of origin.
Having regard to the strict conditions set out in Article 13 of the 1980 Hague Convention
and Article 11(2) to (5) of the Regulation, the courts are likely to decide that the child
shall return in the vast majority of cases.
However, in those exceptional cases where a court nevertheless decides that a child shall
not return pursuant to Article 13 of the 1980 Hague Convention, the Regulation foresees
a special procedure in Article 11(6) and (7).
This requires a court which has issued a decision on non-return to transmit a copy of its
decision together with the relevant documents to the competent court in the Member
State of origin. This transmission can take place either directly from one court to another,
or via the central authorities in the two Member States. The court in the Member State of
origin is to receive the documents within a month of the decision on non-return.
The court of origin shall notify the information to the parties and invite them to make
submissions, in accordance with national law, within three months of the date of
notification, to indicate whether they wish that the court of origin examines the question
of custody of the child.
If the parties do not submit comments within the three month time-limit, the court of
origin shall close the case.
The court of origin shall examine the case if at least one of the parties submits comments
to that effect. Although the Regulation does not impose any time-limit on this, the
objective should be to ensure that a decision is taken as quickly as possible.
􀂾 To which court shall the decision on non-return be transmitted?
The decision on non-return and the relevant documents shall be transferred to the court
which is competent to decide on the substance of the case.
If a court in the Member State has previously issued a judgment concerning the child in
question, the documents shall in principle be transmitted to that court. In the absence of a
judgment, the information shall be sent to the court which is competent according to the
law of that Member State, in most cases where the child was habitually resident before
the abduction. The European Judicial Atlas in Civil Matters can be a useful tool to find
the competent court in the other Member State (Judicial Atlas). The central authorities
appointed under the Regulation can also assist the judges in finding the competent court
in the other Member State (see chapter IX).
37
􀂾 Which documents shall be transmitted and in which language?
Article 11(6) provides that the court which has issued the decision on non-return shall
transmit a copy of the decision and of the relevant documents, in particular a transcript
of the hearings before the court. It is for the judge who has taken the decision to decide
which documents are relevant. To this end, the judge shall give a fair representation of
the most important elements highlighting the factors influencing the decision. In general,
this would include the documents on which the judge has based his or her decision,
including e.g. any reports drawn up by social welfare authorities concerning the situation
of the child. The other court must receive the documents within one month from the
decision.
The mechanisms of translation are not governed by Article 11(6). Judges should try to
find a pragmatic solution which corresponds to the needs and circumstances of each case.
Subject to the procedural law of the State addressed, translation may not be necessary if
the case is transferred to a judge who understands the language of the case. If a
translation proves necessary, it could be limited to the most important documents. The
central authorities may also be able to assist in providing informal translations. If it is not
possible to carry out the translation within the one month time limit, it should be carried
out in the Member State of origin.
4. The court of origin is competent to deal with the substance of the case
in its entirety
Articles 11(7) and 42
The court of origin which takes a decision in the context of Article 11(7) is competent to
deal with the substance of the case in its entirety. Its jurisdiction is therefore not limited
to deciding upon the custody of the child, but may also decide for example on access
rights. The judge should, in principle, be in the position that he or she would have been
in if the abducting parent had not abducted the child but instead had seised the court of
origin to modify a previous decision on custody or to ask for a authorisation to change
the habitual residence of the child. It could be that the person requesting return of the
child did not have the residence of the child before the abduction, or even that that person
is willing to accept a change of the habitual residence of the child in the other Member
State provided that his or her visiting rights are modified accordingly.
5. The procedure before the court of origin
The court of origin should apply certain procedural rules when examining the case.
Compliance with these rules will later allow the court of origin to deliver the certificate
mentioned in Article 42(2).
38
Article 42
The judge of origin should ensure that:
􀂾 all parties are given the opportunity to be heard;
􀂾 the child is given an opportunity to be heard, unless a hearing is considered
inappropriate having regard to the age and maturity of the child;
􀂾 his/her judgment takes into account the reasons for and evidence underlying the
decision on non-return.
Certain practical aspects
􀂾 How can the judge of origin take account of the reasons underlying the
decision on non-return?
It is necessary to establish cooperation between the two judges in order for the judge of
origin to be able properly to take account of the reasons for and the evidence underlying
the decision on non-return. If the two judges speak and/or understand a common
language, they should not hesitate to make contact directly by telephone or e-mail for this
purpose. If there are language problems, the central authorities will be able to assist (see
chapter X).
􀂾 How will it be possible to hear the abducting custody holder and the child if
they stay in the other Member State?
The fact that the abducting custody holder and the abducted child are not likely to travel
to the Member State of origin to attend the proceeding requires that their evidence can be
given from the Member State where they find themselves. One possibility is to use the
arrangements laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 (the Evidence Regulation)
This Regulation, which applies as of 1 January 2004, facilitates the co-operation between
courts of Member States in the taking of evidence in e.g. family law matters. A court
may either request the competent court of another Member State to take evidence or take
evidence directly in that other Member State. The Regulation proposes the taking of
evidence by means of video-conference and tele-conference.
The fact that child abduction constitutes a criminal offence in certain Member States
should also be taken into account. Those Member States should take the appropriate
measures to ensure that the abducting custody holder can participate in the court
proceeding in the Member State of origin without risking criminal sanctions. Again a
solution could be found by using the arrangements laid down in the Evidence Regulation.
Another solution could be put in place special arrangements to ensure the free passage to
and from the Member State of origin to facilitate the personal participation in the
procedure before the court of that State of the individual who abducted the child.
If the court of origin takes a decision that does not entail the return of the child, the case
is to be closed. Jurisdiction to decide on the question of substance is then attributed to the
courts of the Member State to which the child has been abducted (See flowcharts p. 35
and 41).
39
If, on the other hand, the court of origin takes a decision which entails the return of the
child, that decision is directly recognised and enforceable in the other Member State
provided it is accompanied by a certificate (see point 5 and flowchart p. 41).
6. The abolition of exequatur for a decision of the court of origin entailing
the return of the child
Articles 40, 42
As described above (point 2), a court that is seised with a request for the return of a child
pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention shall apply the rules of the Convention as
complemented by Article 11 of the Regulation. If the requested court decides that the
child shall not return, the court of origin will have the final say in determining whether or
not the child shall return.
If the court of origin takes a decision that entails the return of the child, it is important to
ensure that this decision can be enforced quickly in the other Member State. For this
reason, the Regulation provides that such judgments are directly recognised and
enforceable in the other Member State provided they are accompanied by a certificate.
The consequence of this new rule is two-fold: (a) it is no longer necessary to apply for an
exequatur and (b) it is not possible to oppose the recognition of the judgment. The
judgment shall be certified if it meets the procedural requirements mentioned above
under point 4.
The judge of origin shall issue the certificate by using the standard form in Annex IV in
the language of the judgment. The judge shall also fill in the other information requested
in the Annex, including whether the judgment is enforceable in the Member State of
origin at the time it is issued.
The court of origin shall in principle deliver the certificate once the judgment becomes
enforceable, implying that the time for appeal shall, in principle, have elapsed.
However, this rule is not absolute and the court of origin may, if it considers it necessary,
declare that the judgment shall be enforceable, notwithstanding any appeal. The
Regulation confers this right on the judge, even if this possibility is not foreseen under
national law. The aim is to prevent dilatory appeals from unduly delaying the
enforcement of a decision.
Article 43 and Recital 24
It is not possible to appeal against the issuing of a certificate. If the judge of origin has
committed an error in filling in the certificate and it does not correctly reflect the
judgment, it is possible to make a request for rectification to the court of origin. The
national law of the Member State of origin shall apply in that case. A party who wishes
to request the enforcement of the judgment entailing the return of the child shall produce
a copy of the judgment and the certificate. It is not necessary to translate the certificate,
with the exception of point 14 concerning the measures taken by the authorities in the
Member State of origin to ensure the protection of the child upon his or her return.
40
7. New removal of the child to another Member State
Article 42
It must be emphasised that the decision of the court of origin is automatically enforceable
in all the Member States and not only in the Member State in which the decision of nonreturn
was pronounced. This results clearly from the wording of Article 42(1) and
corresponds to the objective and spirit of the Regulation. A removal of the child to
another Member State has therefore no effect on the decision of the court of origin. It is
not necessary to start a new procedure for the return of the child pursuant to the 1980
Hague Convention, but merely to enforce the decision of the court of origin.
41
Procedure in child abduction cases
A child is abducted from Member State A
to Member State B
and the child returns to Member State A.
The decision accompanied
by a certificate is
automatically recognised
and enforceable in Member
State B (Art.42(1))
If the parties do
not submit
comments, the
case is closed
(Art.11(7))
The courts of
Member State B
acquire jurisdiction
(Art. 10(b(b)(iii))
The courts
decision does not
entail the return of
the child.
The courts of
Member State B
acquire jurisdiction
(Art. 10(b)(iv))
Court of Member
State B
The court receives a request for
return of the child. It applies the 1980
Hague Convention and the
Regulation (Art.11(1 to 5))
If the court decides
that the child shall not
return, it shall transmit
a copy of the decision
to the competent court
in Member State A
(Art.11(6))
The court decides
that the child shall
return to Member
State A
Once the court has
received a copy of the
decision on non-return, it
invites the parties to
submit comments within
3 months (Art.11(7))
If the parties submit
comments, the court
examines the question
of custody (Art.11(7))
The courts
decision entails
the return of the
child. The
decision is
accompanied by
a certificate
(Art.42)
42
VIII. Enforcement
Although the enforcement procedure is not governed by the Regulation, but by national
law, it is of the essence that national authorities apply rules which secure efficient and
speedy enforcement of decisions issued under the Regulation so as not to undermine its
objectives.
This applies in particular with regard to access rights and the return of the child
following an abduction for which the exequatur procedure has been abolished in order to
speed up the procedure.
In this context, the European Court of Human Rights has consistently ruled that once the
authorities of a Contracting State to the 1980 Hague Convention have found that a child
has been wrongfully removed pursuant to the Convention, they have a duty to make
adequate and effective efforts to secure the return of the child. A failure to make such
efforts constitutes a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
(right to respect for family life) (see e.g. the Case of Iglesias Gil and A.U.I. v. Spain of
29 July 2003, paragraph 62). Each contracting State must equip itself with adequate and
effective means to ensure compliance with its positive obligations under Article 8 of the
Convention (see e.g. the Cases of Maire v. Portugal of 26 June 2003, paragraph 76 and
Ignaccolo-Zenide v. Romania of 25 January 2000, paragraph 108).
The European Court of Human Rights has also emphasised that proceedings relating to
the award of parental responsibility, including the enforcement of the final decision,
require urgent handling as the passage of time can have irremediable consequences for
the relations between the child and the parent with whom he or she who does not live.
The adequacy of a measure is therefore to be judged by the swiftness of its
implementation (see e.g. the Cases of Ignaccolo-Zenidi v. Romania of 25 January 2000,
paragraph 102 and Maire v. Portugal of 26 June 2003, paragraph 74).
IX. Hearing the child
Articles 23, 41, 42
The Regulation emphasises the importance of giving children the opportunity to express
their views in proceedings concerning them. Hearing the child is one of the requirements
for the abolition of the exequatur procedure for access rights and decisions entailing the
return of the child (see chapters VI and VII). It is also possible to oppose the recognition
and enforcement of a judgment relating to parental responsibility on the basis that the
child concerned was not given the opportunity to be heard (see chapter V).
The Regulation sets out the main principle that a child shall be heard in proceedings that
concern them. As an exception, a child may not be heard if this would be inappropriate
having regard to the childs age and maturity. This exception should be interpreted
restrictively.
The Regulation does not modify the applicable national procedures on this question
(Recital 19). In general, listening to the child needs to be carried out in a manner which
43
takes account of the childs age and maturity. Assessing the views of younger children
needs to be done with special expertise and care and differently from adolescents.
It is not necessary for the childs views to be heard at a court hearing, but they may be
obtained by a competent authority according to national laws. For instance, in certain
Member States, the hearing of the child is done by a social worker who presents a report
to the court indicating the wishes and feelings of the child. If the hearing takes place in
court, the judge should seek to organise the questioning to take account of the nature of
the case, the age of the child and the other circumstances of the case. In any situation it is
important to enable the child to express his or her views in confidence.
Whether the hearing of the child is carried out by a judge or another official, it is of the
essence that that person receives adequate training, for instance how best to
communicate with children and to be aware of the risk that parents seek to influence and
put pressure on the child. When carried out properly, and with appropriate discretion, the
hearing may enable the child to express his or her own wishes and to release him or her
from a feeling of responsibility or guilt.
Hearing the child may have different purposes depending on the type and objective of
procedure. In a proceeding concerning custody rights the objective is usually to assist in
finding the most suitable environment in which the child should reside. In a case of child
abduction the purpose is often to ascertain the nature of the childs objections to return
and why they have developed, and also to ascertain whether, and if so in what way, the
child may be at risk. There is always a possibility that parents try to influence the child in
such cases.
X. Co-operation between central authorities and
between courts
Articles 53-58
The central authorities will play a vital role in the application of the Regulation. The
Member States must designate at least one central authority. Ideally, these authorities
should coincide with the existing authorities entrusted with the application of the 1980
Hague Convention. This could create synergies and allow the authorities to benefit from
the experiences acquired by the authorities in child abduction cases.
The central authorities must be given sufficient financial and human resources to be able
to fulfil their duties and their personnel must receive adequate training before the entry
into force of the Regulation. The use of modern technologies should be encouraged.
The Regulation foresees that the central authorities will be effectively integrated in the
European Judicial Network on civil and commercial matters (European Judicial
Network) and that they will meet regularly within this Network to discuss the application
of the Regulation.
The specific duties of the central authorities are listed in Article 55. They include
facilitating court-to-court communications, which will be necessary in particular where a
case is transferred from one court to another (See Chapters III and VII). In these cases,
44
the central authorities will serve as a link between the national courts and the central
authorities of other Member States.
Another task of the central authorities is to facilitate agreements between holders of
parental responsibility through e.g. mediation. It is generally considered that mediation
can play an important role in e.g. child abduction cases to ensure that the child can
continue to see the non-abducting parent after the abduction and to see the abducting
parent after the child has returned to the Member State of origin. However, it is important
that the mediation process is not used to unduly delay the return of the child.
The central authorities do not have to carry out these duties themselves, but may act
through other agencies.
In parallel with the requirements for central authorities to co-operate, the Regulation
requires that the courts of different Member States co-operate for various purposes.
Certain provisions impose specific obligations upon judges of different Member States to
communicate and to exchange information in the context of a transfer of a case (see
chapter III) and in the context of child abduction (see chapter VII).
To encourage and facilitate such co-operation, discussions between judges should be
encouraged, both within the context of the European Judicial Network and through
initiatives organised by the Member States. The experience of the informal liaison judge
arrangement organised in the context of the 1980 Hague Convention may prove
instructive in this context.
It may be that some Member States may consider it worthwhile to establish liaison
judges or judges specialised in family law to assist in the functioning of the Regulation.
Such arrangements, within the context of the European Judicial Network, could lead to
effective liaison between judges and the central authorities as well as between judges,
and thus contribute to a speedier resolution of cases of parental responsibility under the
Regulation.
XI. Relationship between the Regulation and
the 1996 Hague Convention on child
protection
Articles 61, 62
The scope of application of the Regulation is very similar to that of the Hague
Convention of 19 October 1996 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition, enforcement
and co-operation in respect of parental responsibility and measures for the protection of
the child (the 1996 Hague Convention) . Both instruments contain rules on jurisdiction,
recognition and enforcement of decisions on parental responsibility.
Six Member States have ratified or adhered to the Convention to this date (June 2005):
the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Lithuania and Slovenia. The remaining
Member States, with the exception of Hungary and Malta, have all signed but not yet
45
ratified the Convention. It is foreseen that the Convention will enter into force in the
Member States once they have all ratified it in the interest of the Community. The
relationship between the two instruments is clarified in Articles 61 and 62.
Articles 61 and 62
In order to determine whether the Regulation or the Convention applies in a specific
case, the following questions should be examined:
(a) Does the case concern a matter covered by the Regulation?
The Regulation prevails over the Convention in relations between Member States in
matters covered by the Regulation. Consequently, the Regulation prevails in matters of
jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement. On the other hand, the Convention applies in
relations between Member States in matters of applicable law, since this subject is not
covered by the Regulation.
(b) Does the child concerned have his/her habitual residence on the territory of a
Member State?
If both (a) and (b) apply, the Regulation prevails over the Convention.
(c) Does the case concern the recognition and/or enforcement of a decision issued by
a court in another Member State?
Question (c) must be addressed on the basis that the rules on recognition and
enforcement of the Regulation apply with regard to all decisions issued by the competent
court of a Member State. It is irrelevant whether the child concerned lives within the
territory of a particular Member State or not so long as the courts of that State have
competence to take the decision in question. Hence, the rules on recognition and
enforcement of the Regulation apply to decisions issued by the courts of a Member State
even if the child concerned lives in a third State which is a contracting Party to the
Convention. The aim is to ensure the creation of a common judicial area which requires
that all decisions issued by competent courts within the European Union are recognised
and enforced under a common set of rules.
Article 12(4)
As described in Chapter II, Article 12 of the Regulation introduces a limited prorogation
option for a party to choose to seise a court of a Member State in which the child is not
habitually resident, but with which the child has nevertheless a substantial connection.
This option is not limited to situations where the child is habitually resident within the
territory of a Member State, but it applies also where the habitual residence of the child
is in a third State that is not a contracting party to the 1996 Hague Convention. In that
case, jurisdiction under Article 12 shall be deemed to be in the childs best interests, in
particular, but not only, if it is found impossible to hold proceedings in the third State in
question (Article 12(4)).
46
By contrast, if the child is habitually resident in the territory of a third State which is a
contracting party to the Convention, the rules of the Convention apply.
47
ANNEX
Divorce proceedings in the European Union
Brief summary of the rules on matrimonial matters
I. Introduction
The provisions of the Regulation concerning matrimonial matters have been adopted
from the Brussels II Regulation practically unchanged. The literature devoted to the
Brussels II Regulation since its entry into force on 1 March 2001 can therefore serve as
guidance also for the present Regulation. The explanatory report concerning the
Convention of 28 May 1998, which preceded the Brussels II Regulation, could e.g. be
useful in this context (OJ C 221, 16.7.1998, p. 27).
The Regulation contains rules on jurisdiction and recognition in civil matters relating to
divorce, legal separation and marriage annulment (divorce). Its scope is confined to
the dissolution of the matrimonial ties and it does not apply to any ancillary issues, such
as the property consequences of the marriage or the grounds for divorce.
II. Which Member States courts have
jurisdiction?
The jurisdiction rule in Article 3 set out a complete system of grounds of jurisdiction to
determine in which Member State the courts are competent. The Regulation determines
merely the Member State whose courts have jurisdiction, but not the court which is
competent within that Member State. This question is left to domestic procedural law.
A court that is seised with an application for divorce has to make the following analysis:
48
Do I have jurisdiction pursuant to Articles 3-5?
YES NO
Does a court of another Member State have
jurisdiction under the Regulation (Art. 17)?
YES NO
I shall declare on my own motion Where no court is competent
that I do not have jurisdiction under the Regulation, I can
(Art.17). still have jurisdiction according
to my national law (residual
jurisdiction) (Art. 7).
Several alternative grounds of jurisdiction
Article 3
There is no general jurisdiction rule in matrimonial matters. Instead, Article 3
enumerates several grounds of jurisdiction. The grounds are alternative, implying that
that there is no hierarchy between them.
Article 3 of the new Brussels II Regulation enumerates seven alternative grounds of
jurisdiction in matters of divorce, legal separation and marriage annulment. The grounds
do not take precedence over each other and the spouses may file a petition with the
courts of the Member State of:
(a) their habitual residence or
(b) their last habitual residence if one of them still resides there or
(c) the habitual residence of either spouse in case of a joint application or
(d) the habitual residence of the respondent or
(e) the habitual residence of the applicant provided that he or she has resided there
for at least one year before making the application or
(f) the habitual residence of the applicant provided that he or she has resided there
for at least six months before making the application and he or she is a national of
that Member State or
49
(g) their common nationality (common domicile in the case of the U.K. and
Ireland).
The grounds are exclusive in the sense that a spouse who is habitually resident in a
Member State or who is a national of a Member State (or who has his or her domicile
in the United Kingdom or Ireland) may only be sued in another Member State on the
basis of the Regulation.
Example: A man who is a national of Member State A is married to a woman who is a national
of Member State B. The couple are habitually resident in Member State C. After a few years,
their marriage deteriorates and the wife wants to divorce. The couple can only apply for divorce
before the courts of Member State C pursuant to Article 3 on the basis that they have their
habitual residence there. The wife cannot seise the courts of Member State B on the basis that she
is a national of this State, since Article 3 requires the common nationality of the spouses.
The prorogation rule of Article 12 stipulates that a court which is seised of divorce
proceedings under the Regulation also has jurisdiction in matters of parental
responsibility connected with the divorce if certain conditions are met (see chapter II,
point 2 c).
III. What happens if proceedings are brought in
two Member States?
Article 19 (1)
Once a court has been seised pursuant to Article 3 of the Regulation and declared itself
competent, courts of other Member States are no longer competent and must dismiss any
subsequent application. The aim of the lis pendens rule is to ensure legal certainty,
avoid parallel actions and the possibility of irreconcilable judgments.
The wording of Article 19(1) has been modified slightly compared to Article 11(1) and
(2) of the Brussels II Regulation. The change was introduced to simplify the text without
changing the substance.
Article 19(1) covers two situations:
(a) Proceedings relating to the same subject-matter and cause of action are brought
before courts of different Member States and
(b) Proceedings which do not relate to the same cause of action, but which are
dependent actions are brought before courts of different Member States.

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