Ukraine in Times of Peril: Disputes over Children in the High Court

Pam Sanghera Acts Pro Bono

Ukraine in Times of Peril: Disputes over Children in the High Court

Pam Sanghera

Pam Sanghera (director and child abduction specialist lawyer)

Award Winning Child Abduction Lawyer Pam Sanghera acted pro bono in the High Court last week in a case where a child had been sent by her mother in Ukraine to England because of the continued warzone dangers. Barristers Clare Renton of 29 Bedford Row Chambers and Sharin Diegan of Goldsmith Chambers also acted pro bono in the case.

The client was the child’s maternal aunt who retrieved the child from Poland in March 2022 and set about settling the child in school and otherwise helping her integrate into the local community in the UK with the mother’s consent. The mother later decided that the child should return to Ukraine to her care despite the ongoing war.

There were ongoing wardship proceedings in the High Court in which the child was separately represented. In February 2023, when the child had been in the UK for 11 months, the mother issued proceedings for summary return to Ukraine pursuant to the Hague Convention 1980.

The aunt defended the application on the grounds of:

(1) the child’s habitual residence had changed to England prior to any alleged wrongful retention;

(2) the mother had consented or acquiesced to the child living in the UK;

(3) the child was at risk of grave harm if she was returned to Ukraine and no protective measures were adequate in the circumstances and;

(4) the child herself objected to the return.

The outcome of each case is fact specific however this case illustrates the legal complexities which can arise in cases involving disputes over children who come to England in times of peril.