About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

European case on incapacity

The case of X v Croatia has been reported on Bailii. The European Court of Human Rights considered the situation of a mentally ill mother who had been excluded from the adoption process. The nub of the decision was as follows:

"Despite the fact that there had at no stage been a decision expressly divesting the applicant of her parental rights, her daughter was freed for adoption and the adoption proceedings were eventually completed without the participation of the applicant in any form, save for a telephone call as maintained by the Government. The Court has not overlooked the fact that the applicant was divested of the capacity to act. However, the Court has difficulty in accepting that every person divested of the capacity to act should be automatically excluded from adoption proceedings concerning his or her child, as the applicant was in the present case. The Court finds that it was not sufficient for the applicant to be only summarily informed by the relevant domestic authorities, while her parental rights were still intact, that adoption proceedings had been instituted in respect of her daughter. The Court considers that she should also have been given an opportunity to be heard in those proceedings and thus the possibility of expressing her views about the potential adoption of her daughter."

Although the procedures employed in Croatia are not on all fours with those in the UK when parents are represented by the Official Solicitor, the case certainly has resonance with the recent UK decision in relation to the OS and may well provide fuel for a further challenge of UK procedures.

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