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Facts of the case:

The child at the centre of these proceedings was born on 26 May 2007, and was almost five years old at the time when the Court decision was given. It is alleged that the child was wrongfully removed to Ireland by the respondent, her mother. The applicant, who is the father of the child, sought an order for the return of the child to England. The father and the mother were never married to each other. It is not in dispute that the child was habitually resident in England in January 2012; that the father has parental authority and that his consent to the removal of the child to Ireland was not obtained. The mother requested that the court interview the child in order to ascertain her views prior to deciding whether to order the return of the child to England. The father opposed that application having regard to the age of the child.

Outcome of the case:

The High Court took into consideration the obligation to give the child an opportunity to be heard unless this appears inappropriate having regard to her age or degree of maturity. The Court also exercised its judgment on a wider basis as to the appropriateness of directly involving a young child in proceedings between her parents by giving her an opportunity to be heard notwithstanding that she may be the subject of the dispute. Courts, consistent with their obligations to have due regard for the rights of the child, should also assist the parents in protecting young children from being aware of or involved in their disputes. In light of all this, the High Court refused the mother’s request to interview the child by reason of her age.