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19 Mar 21 Back to Listing

Alan Payne QC and John Goss commended for ‘high professional standards’ by UK Supreme Court in significant case relating to asylum seekers and parental abduction

Judgment was handed down by the Supreme Court (Lords Lloyd-Jones, Hamblen, Leggatt, Burrows, Stephens JJSC) on 19 March 2021 in the important case of G v G [2021] UKSC 9, which dealt with the interaction between the Hague Convention 1980 (which deals with summary return of children abducted from their country of habitual residence) and international, EU and domestic law relating to asylum seekers and refugees. Alan Payne QC and John Goss appeared for the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The judgment specifically highlights their ‘high professional standards’ in advancing the Secretary of State’s case.

Lord Stephens’ judgment, with which the other members of the Court agreed, drew heavily on Alan and John’s submissions. It establishes that where a child has made an asylum application, or been named as a dependant on an asylum application, there is an absolute bar to the implementation of any order for summary return of an abducted child made under the Hague Convention until that application is determined. He accepted the Secretary of State’s submissions that, contrary to the indication given by the Court of Appeal, this protection lasted for the duration of the appeal process. 

Lord Stephens also set out a number of practical steps with a view to enabling the harmonious resolution of both Hague proceedings and the determination of a related asylum application. Importantly, the judgment re-affirms that the courts cannot interfere with the Secretary of State’s statutory responsibility for handling asylum claims, other than on appeal or by way of judicial review: there is no scope for the Hague proceedings being used as a substitute for the asylum process.

The judgment and press summary are available here.

Alan and John previously acted for the Secretary of State in the Court of Appeal. They are regularly instructed by Government departments, other public bodies and private clients in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court.