MZ v RZ (Hague Convention 1996. Habitual Residence. Inward Return)  EWHC 2490 (Fam)
18th September 2021
Judgment: Both parents lived in England. The mother had taken their three-year-old daughter to India in March 2019, and returned without her, leaving the child with the maternal grandparents. Though born in England, the daughter was not yet a British citizen. In April 2021, the father had applied under the inherent jurisdiction for a wardship order and a return order. This hearing was to determine whether the court had jurisdiction (including the question of habitual residence), and whether the father's delay in issuing proceedings was fatal to his application. Peel J concluded that the child had continued to be habitually resident in England and Wales and had been so at the date of the father's application. He noted that the mother had offered very little evidence about the child's situation in India. As to delay, that would be a factor in considering whether wardship and return orders should be made, but it did not entitle the court to strike out the claim unless the prospects of success had been so hopeless as to justify the exercise of case management powers in such a profoundly draconian way.