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Referral to Strasbourg Grand Chamber Refused in Adoption Case


A panel of 5 judges of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights decided on 15 September 2011 to refuse a request, by the unsuccessful applicants, for a referral to the Grand Chamber in the case of R and H v UK.

The applicants had submitted that an order made by the High Court of Northern Ireland freeing their child for adoption without their consent was in breach of Article 8 ECHR. An appeal against that order was dismissed by the House of Lords (Baroness Hale dissenting). The applicants complained before the Strasbourg Court that the freeing order was a disproportionate interference with their rights under Article 8 and that it was inappropriate, in their case, for a freeing order to have been made in advance of an adoption order.

The European Court of Human Rights found, in its judgment of 31 May 2011, that the making of the freeing order complied with the procedural and substantive requirements of Article 8 ECHR and that there had been no Article 8 violation. In reaching its findings, the Court stressed the practical reasons for the use of the two-stage procedure. The European Court of Human Rights also found that no separate issue arose for determination under Article 6 ECHR and rejected the applicants' complaint under Article 13 ECHR as manifestly ill-founded.

Jemima Stratford QC was instructed by the United Kingdom Government and was assisted by Sarah Love.