In Re Z [2016] EWHC 784 (Fam), Baker J had to consider the exercise of the court's powers under the inherent jurisdiction to recognise and enforce orders concerning the medical treatment of children made by courts of another member state of the European Union.

Z was a girl in her early teens who had developed a very serious eating disorder. She received treatment at a number of hospitals in Ireland but by early 2016 it became clear that she required special treatment, incorporating nutrition, hydration and psychiatric treatment, which would include, if necessary, the use of restraint, and which could not be provided in her home country. Her doctors therefore made arrangements for her to be admitted and treated in a specialist unit in an English hospital which is able to provide the treatment required. Her parents supported this proposal although Z herself did not agree. The Irish statutory authority brought an application before Baker J for recognition and enforcement of the order made in Ireland providing for such treatment.

In short terms, Baker J held that:

  1. An order of that nature fell within the scope of Brussels IIA as a decision about  the exercise of parental responsibility, such that, in principle, recognition and enforcement should be undertaken under the provisions of FPR Part 31;
  2. Where – as in the instant case – it was not possible for those provisions to be operated with sufficient speed, the High Court could use its inherent jurisdiction to recognise and enforce the order pending the completion of the FPR Part 31 processes;
  3. An order providing for medical treatment of the nature made by the Irish court did not fall within the scope of Article 56 of Brussels IIA, such that prior consultation with the “receiving” central authority or other authority with jurisdiction was not a pre- requisite to it being made;
  4. In line with the approach adopted in Re PD, it would not ordinarily be necessary for the child to be represented in the English proceedings   if   they   were   party   to   and represented in the proceedings in the foreign court.

Usefully, the order endorsed by the court appears at the end of the judgment as a precedent for any future application of this nature.