A father has won his appeal against a court decision allowing his three children to be taken to Iraq by their mother.
The case involved an Iraqi couple who came to the UK in 2008. After the breakdown of their relationship in 2015, the mother left the family home with the children. Residence and contact proceedings began, and the father obtained an order to prevent the mother removing the children from the UK.
In January 2017, the mother said she wished to take the children to visit her family in Iraq for four weeks during the summer holidays.
The father objected, citing concerns about the children’s safety in Iraq and the possibility that the mother might not return them. He pointed out that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all but essential travel to Iraq.
The judge asked their legal representatives about the trip and, after a short exchange, delivered a 250-word judgment giving permission for a four-week holiday.
He noted the advice of the Foreign Office, but held that the mother and her family were well placed to make judgements about the children’s safety. Noting that the children had travelled to Iraq at least twice before, he concluded that there was no reason to believe that the mother would not return them.
The Court of Appeal has overturned that decision.
It held that the judge had decided the case without hearing evidence and without giving the father the opportunity to make submissions. Moreover, his brief judgment showed that he had not applied the established legal principles and had not given the matter the required level of rigorous scrutiny.
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