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Will My Family Case Be Heard in the High Court?

Family matters in England & Wales can be dealt with in the Family Division of the High Court, by district judges in County Courts and in Family Proceedings Courts, which are specialist Magistrates’ Courts. The High Court of Justice is one of the three Senior Courts of England & Wales, along with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court.

You can read our articles about the different types of family law judges in the UK and how to address judges in the High Court.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has published guidance to clarify when cases will be heard in the Family Division of the High Court. In all the matters listed below, cases must be commenced in the High Court. In all other cases, every family matter must be commenced in the family court and not in the High Court.

Part A : family court does not have jurisdiction; must be commenced in the Family Division

  1. Inherent jurisdiction of the court relating to children (including applications for interim relief and injunctions invoking the inherent jurisdiction of the court and applications to make a child a ward of court or to bring such an order to an end)
  2. Cases in which a Tipstaff Order is applied for
  3. Applications for Declaratory Relief (other than under Part III of the Family Law Act 1986)
  4. Declarations of incompatibility under the Human Rights Act 1998
  5. Proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  6. Proceedings under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996
  7. Proceedings under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 (including under Part II)
  8. Adoptions with a foreign element involving:
    • an issue concerning placement for adoption of the child outside the jurisdiction,
    • application for direction that section 67(3) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (status conferred by adoption) does not apply,
    • parental responsibility order prior to adoption abroad (Adoption and Children Act 2002, section 84(1)), or
    • application for annulment of overseas or Convention adoption under Adoption and Children Act 2002, section 89
  9. Registration of:
    • foreign judgments under Part 1 of the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1920;
    • judgments given in a different part of the UK under Part 2 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982;
    • Part 1 orders made in a court in another part of the UK under the Family Law Act 1986 section 32(1)
  10. Applications under Part 31 of the FPR (registration of orders under the 2201/2003 Council Regulation, the 1996 Hague Convention and the Civil
    Partnership (Jurisdiction and Recognition of Judgments) Regulations 2005).
  11. Applications under Article 16 of the 1996 Hague Convention for a declaration as to the extent or existence of parental responsibility.
  12. Applications under Article 15 of the 2201/2003 Council Regulation and Articles 8 and 9 of the 1996 Hague Convention (request for transfer of jurisdiction) but only when required by FPR 2010 12.61-12.66 to be made to the High Court
  13. Issuance of letter of request for person to be examined out of the jurisdiction

Part B : family court has jurisdiction but must be commenced in the Family Division

  1. Cases which require the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court to be invoked
  2. Radicalisation cases within the meaning of President’s Guidance, Radicalisation cases in the family courts, dated 8 October 2015
  3. Issues as to publicity (identification of a child or restriction on publication or injunctions seeking to restrict the freedom of the media) where this is the principal relief sought
  4. Applications in medical treatment cases e.g. for novel medical treatment or lifesaving procedures
  5. Public law cases in which an application is made for (a) permanent placement or (b) temporary removal from the jurisdiction to a non-Hague convention country
  6. Proceedings with an international element relating to recognition or enforcement of orders, conflict or comity of laws which have exceptional immigration/asylum status issues
  7. Public law cases in which:
    • a child has been brought to this jurisdiction in circumstances which might constitute a wrongful removal or retention either from a EC Member State, a Hague Convention country (a contracting State to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention and/or a contracting State to the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention) or a non-Convention country, or
    • a child is alleged to have been abducted overseas and applications have been made in this jurisdiction such as for a declaration that the child was habitually resident in this country prior to the abduction or for an order that the child be returned with a request for assistance etc

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

The High Court

By Rafa Esteve (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons


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