A Local Authority v X and others  EWHC 874 (Fam)
- The Local Authority is represented by Clive Newton QC, instructed by HB Public Law.
- The Respondents’ Mother is represented by Anna McKenna QC, instructed by Duncan Lewis Solicitors.
- The two oldest children were represented by Markanza Cudby, instructed by G J Law.
This is a public law care case important because it decided three previously unresolved issues relating to diplomatic immunity. These issues were as follows:
- By Article 39 (2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 (“VCDR”) diplomatic immunity is lost on the expiry of a reasonable period after the diplomat’s functions have come to an end. The UK Government has operated a “one size fits all” policy of interpreting a “reasonable period” as 31 days. In the absence of previous authority Gwyneth Knowles J. decided that the “reasonable period” issue was one for the court to decide based on the circumstances of the particular case, but considered that 31 days did fit this case.
- Article 37 of the VCDR affords diplomatic immunity to members of the diplomat’s family forming part of their “household”. The issue was, does a diplomat’s child in the interim care of the local authority remain part of that diplomat’s household? In the absence of previous authority Gwyneth Knowles J. decided that a child in the interim care of a local authority may remain part of their diplomat parent’s household and that in this case the relevant children did so remain.
- The third issue was whether the Court had jurisdiction to make a final care order where both parent and child retained diplomatic immunity. On this issue Gwyneth Knowles J. applied the same reasoning as applied by the President (Butler-Sloss P) in Re B (Care Proceedings:Diplomatic Immunity)  1 FLR 241 in relation to the making of an interim care order and held that the Court did have such jurisdiction.
In relation to the welfare issues Gwyneth Knowles J., rejecting the guardian’s submissions, decided, as submitted by the local authority and the mother, that making no order would be better for the children than making any form of public law order.