Hague Conventions – Unlawful Removal of a Child

Hague Flowchart 1

Hague Flowchart 2

Prevention of Removal – to avoid the need for Hague.

Removal of a Child out of Hong Kong – the Matrimonial Causes Rules (Cap 179A), r 94(2) was repealed on 5th April 2014. The reason for the repeal is because on the same date the Child Abduction and Custody Ordinance (Cap 512) (CACO) was amended to reflect recommendations in the LRC Report on “International Parental Child Abduction (April 2002) – never let is be said that HK rushes into amending legislation! There are many substantial amendments to the CACO, including Location Orders (s. 15) Mirror Orders (s.16) Recovery Orders (s.17) and Prohibition Orders (s.21). Of course, most of the amendments attach to Hague applications for unlawful removal. However, the frequently used ex-parte application under MCR r 94(2) on prevention of removal of a child from Hong Kong now arises under Part 3, s.21 CACO (Cap 512) as amended.

Hague

Outline of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction
Hague Convention Child Abduction Page
Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction
List of Contracting States
DOJ – Hong Kong Central Authority
Child Abduction and Custody Ordinance (Cap 512)
Child Abduction and Custody Ordinance (Parties to the Convention) Ordinance (Cap 512A)
Reunite – UK Child Abduction Centre
INTERPOL

List of Authorities – with a useful discussion of the legal principles

The most recent UK Supreme Court Decisions (January 2014) are reviewed here: Habitual Residence and Joinder in Child Abduction Cases: The Supreme Court’s judgment in LC (Children)

27th August 2015  – Hague Convention LCYP v. JEK [2015] HKCA 407; CACV 98/2015 – inter alia review of the principles on habitual residence under the Hague Convention in BLW v. BWL [2007] 2 HKLRD 193 (link below) – see Court of Final Appeal’s judgment of Vallejos v Commissioner of Registration (2013) 16 HKCFAR 45 which construed ‘ordinarily resident’ in Article 24(2)(4) of the Basic Law.

M v E CACV 75/2015 5th June 2015
Re UB HCMP 2706/2014 10th December 2014
In the Matter of A (Children) (AP) [2013] UKSC 60 – UK Supreme Court 9th September 2013 – Family Law Week Comment
ZA & Anor v NA [2012] EWCA Civ 1396 (Habitual Residence)
Y v M HCMP 489/2010
M v M (CACV 85/2007) Habitual Residence
BLW v BWL CACV416/2006
LM v HTS  HCMP 1329/2001, [2001] 2 HKLRD 377
K v K HCMP 1815/2006
PP v VV 2010 Quebec Superior Court
SC v LW HCMP 1824/2002, [2004] 1 HKLRD 655
AC v AS [2002] 1 HKC 441 (HCMP 4266/2001) Rights of Custody and Access, Wrongful Retention, Habitual Residence
Cannon v Cannon [2004] EWCA Civ 1330 Australia (and HK?) v Rest of the World on the Interpretation of Art 12
K v K (FCMC 1409/2003) Wrongful Retention See HCMP 1815/2006
K v K (HCMP 1815/2006) Defining ‘Habitual Residence’
L v W (FCMC 9692/2006) Forum Non-Conveniens
N v O [1999] 1 HKLRD 68 (HCMP 4204/1998) Habitual Residence
Re C (Abduction Settlement [2004] EWHC 1245 (Fam); [2005] 1 FLR 127. Art 12 “12-Month Rule”
AC v PC HCMP 1238/2004 (14 June 2004) adopting Singer J’s judgment in Re C (above)
Re L 2003 WL 1953746 (CFI), [2004] 1 HKLRD 655, [2003] HKEC 744 [2003] HKEC 744 (HCMP001824/2002) Wrongful removal, ‘acquiescence’
Re M & Anor (Children) [2007] UKHL 55 Art 12 & 13 “12-Month Rule” Discussion of Different Approaches
Re S (A Minor) (1997) HL
S (a Child) [2012] UKSC 10

Family Court Users Committee (April 2014)

Lawyers are invited to take notice of 2 matters relating to Family Court Practice and Procedure, which have recently been raised in the Family Court Users Committee (FCUC). (1) Injunctions against taking children out of Hong Kong.

The FCUC has advised that in making an application for an injunction against the removal of a child from the jurisdiction, particulars of the child as set out hereinafter should be included in the documentation so that sufficient information can be included in the Order and Notice of the injunction to be sent to the Immigration Department.

The particulars referred to hereinabove are: (a) the child’s full name; (b) sex; (c) date of birth; (d) the number of his/her Hong Kong identity card, if any; (e) details and number of his/her Passport(s) and Hong Kong Re-Entry Permit; (f) information as to other travel documents, if any.

Hague

The Permanent Bureau regularly publishes and maintains a Collection of Conventions together with handbooks on the operation of certain Conventions. It also edits the Proceedings of each of the Sessions which now encompasses an impressive collection of “Actes et Documents”. Some of these documents are also available on CD-ROM or microfiches.

The Conference website, www.hcch.net, presents general information concerning the Hague Conference as well as detailed and updated information on the Hague Conventions: texts of the Conventions, full status reports, bibliographies, information regarding the authorities designated under the Conventions on judicial and administrative co-operation, explanatory reports, etc.

INCADAT, the International Child Abduction Database, www.incadat.com, is a special initiative which provides easy access to many of the leading judicial decisions taken by national courts around the world in respect of the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction.

INCASTAT, an electronic statistical database which generates the Annual Statistical Forms concerning return and access applications, has been made available for Central Authorities designated under the 1980 Child Abduction Convention.

Hague Convention – Korea

On 1st February 2014 Korea agreed to the formal arrangement under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction between the Republic of Korea and China, for and on behalf of Hong Kong and Macau. See link  here

Hague Convention – Japan

1st April 2014 Japan will follow Korea and also accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. See report here

Hong Kong Region Office

Hong Kong is the second regional office of the Hague Conference and its first in Asia Pacific.  Mr Justice Michael Hartmann has been appointed as Representative of Hague Conference’s Asia Pacific Regional Office. He is a local non-permanent judge in Hong Kong’s highest court, the Court of Final Appeal, and has been a member of the International Hague Network of Judges for many years.

Hague Conference on Private International Law

The World Organisation for Cross-boarder Co-operation in Civil and Commercial Matters

A WORLD ORGANISATION

With nearly 70 Members (68 States and the European Community) representing all continents, the Hague Conference on Private International Law is a global inter-governmental organisation. A melting pot of different legal traditions, it develops and services multilateral legal instruments, which respond to global needs.

An increasing number of non-Member States are also becoming Parties to the Hague Conventions. As a result, the work of the Conference encompasses 130 countries around the world.

BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN LEGAL SYSTEMS

Personal and family or commercial situations which are connected with more than one country are commonplace in the modern world. These may be affected by differences between the legal systems in those countries. With a view to resolving these differences, States have adopted special rules known as “private international law” rules.

The statutory mission of the Conference is to work for the “progressive unification” of these rules. This involves finding internationally-agreed approaches to issues such as jurisdiction of the courts, applicable law, and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in a wide range of areas, from commercial law and banking law to international civil procedure and from child protection to matters of marriage and personal status.

Over the years, the Conference has, in carrying out its mission, increasingly become a centre for international judicial and administrative co-operation in the area of private law, especially in the fields of protection of the family and children, of civil procedure and commercial law.

AND REINFORCING LEGAL CERTAINTY AND SECURITY

The ultimate goal of the Organisation is to work for a world in which, despite the differences between legal systems, persons – individuals as well as companies – can enjoy a high degree of legal security.

A LONG-STANDING ORGANISATION

The Conference held its first meeting in 1893, on the initiative of T.M.C. Asser (Nobel Peace Prize 1911). It became a permanent inter-governmental organisation in 1955, upon entry into force of its Statute.

GOVERNED AND FUNDED BY ITS MEMBERS

The Organisation meets in principle every four years in Plenary Session (ordinary Diplomatic Session) to negotiate and adopt Conventions and to decide upon future work. The Conventions are prepared by Special Commissions or working groups held several times a year, generally at the Peace Palace in The Hague, increasingly in various member countries. Special Commissions are also organised to review the operation of the Conventions and adopt recommendations with the object of improving the effectiveness of the Conventions and promoting consistent practices and interpretation.

The Organisation is funded principally by its Members. Its budget is approved every year by the Council of Diplomatic Representatives of Member States. The Organisation also seeks and receives some funding for special projects from other sources.

BASED IN THE HAGUE, CENTRE OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE

Activities of the Conference are co-ordinated by a multinational Secretariat – the Permanent Bureau – located in The Hague. The Conference’s working languages are English and French.

The Secretariat prepares the Plenary Sessions and Special Commissions, and carries out the basic research required for any subject taken up by the Conference. It also engages in various activities to support the effective implementation and operation of the Conventions.

In addition to Diplomatic representations in The Netherlands, the Secretariat maintains direct contacts with its Members through designated National and Contact Organs. It also develops permanent contacts with experts and delegates of the Members, with the national Central Authorities designated under certain Conventions, as well as with international governmental and non-governmental organisations, and with professional and academic communities. Increasingly, the Secretariat also responds to requests for information from users of the Conventions.

THE HAGUE CONVENTIONS

Between 1893 and 1904, the Conference adopted 7 international Conventions, which have all been subsequently replaced by more modern instruments.

Between 1951 and 2008, the Conference adopted 38 international Conventions, the practical operation of many of which is regularly reviewed by Special Commissions. Even when they are not ratified, the Conventions have an influence upon legal systems, in both Member and non-Member States. They also form a source of inspiration for efforts to unify private international law at the regional level, for example within the Organisation of American States or the European Union.

The most widely ratified Conventions deal with:

  • The abolition of legalisation
  • Service of process
  • Taking of evidence abroad
  • Access to justice
  • International child abduction
  • Intercountry adoption
  • Conflicts of laws relating to the form of testamentary dispositions
  • Maintenance obligations
  • Recognition of divorces

The most recent Conventions are:

  • Convention on the Law Applicable to Certain Rights in respect of Securities held with an Intermediary (2006)
  • Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (2005)
  • Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance
  • Protocol on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations (2007).

Cross-border mediation in family matters, choice of law in international contracts, accessing the content of foreign law and the possible need for the development of a global instrument in these areas are also on the agenda, together with, without priority, the following topics:

  • questions of private international law raised by the information society, including electronic commerce,
  • conflict of jurisdictions,
  • applicable law and international judicial and administrative co-operation in respect of civil liability for environmental damage;
  • jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of succession upon death
  • questions of private international law relating to unmarried couples;
  • assessment and analysis of transnational legal issues relating to indirectly held securities and security interests, taking into account in particular the work undertaken by other international organisations.

Furthermore, the Permanent Bureau has undertaken feasibility studies on the treatment of foreign law, cross-border mediation in family matters, the choice of law in international contracts. The Permanent Bureau also continues its exploration of the possibility to apply certain techniques it has developed in the area of international co-operation to aspects of international migration.

EDUCATION AND EXCHANGE

With the aim of harmonising the implementation of the Conventions, the Secretariat organises, assists in organising and participates in conferences and seminars held at international, regional and national levels to educate the various persons involved in the implementation of the Conventions, including judges, Central Authority personnel and members of the legal profession. A judicial newsletter on international child protection is also published. The Permanent Bureau is regularly visited by groups of interested persons such as parliamentarians and students. An increasing number of stagiaires, as well as civil servants seconded by their Governments, spend time working within the Secretariat. Members of the Permanent Bureau regularly publish articles in learned journals and contribute to books and other publications.

INFORMATION ON THE HAGUE CONFERENCE ON PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW

The Hague Conference on private international law is an intergovernmental organisation, the purpose of which is “to work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law” (Statute, Article 1).
See also the Resolution of the Seventeenth Session.

BACKGROUND, ESTABLISHMENT AND STATUS

The First Session of the Hague Conference on private international law was convened in 1893 by the Netherlands Government on the initiative of T.M.C. Asser (Nobel Peace Prize 1911). Prior to the Second World War, six Sessions were held (1893, 1894, 1900, 1904, 1925 and 1928). The Seventh Session in 1951 marked the beginning of a new era with the preparation of a Statute which made the Conference a permanent intergovernmental organisation. The Statute entered into force on 15 July 1955. Since 1956, regular Plenary Sessions are held every four years, the Twenty-First of which met in 2007.

METHODS OF OPERATION

The principal method used to achieve the purpose of the Conference consists in the negotiation and drafting of multilateral treaties or Conventions in the different fields of private international law

  • international judicial and administrative co-operation;
  • conflict of laws for contracts,
  • torts,
  • maintenance obligations,
  • status and protection of children,
  • relations between spouses,
  • wills and estates or trusts;
  • recognition of companies;
  • jurisdiction and enforcement of foreign judgments

After preparatory research has been done by the secretariat, preliminary drafts of the Conventions are drawn up by the Special Commissions made up of governmental experts. The drafts are then discussed and adopted at a Plenary Session of the Hague Conference, which is a diplomatic conference.

The secretariat of the Hague Conference maintains close contact with its Members through National or Contact Organs designated by each Member.

For the purpose of monitoring the operation of certain treaties involving judicial or administrative co-operation, the Permanent Bureau enters into direct contact from time to time with the Central Authorities designated by the States Parties to those treaties.

In order to promote international co-operation and to ensure co-ordination of work undertaken by different bodies, the Hague Conference also maintains continuing contact with a number of international organisations, including

  • United Nations – particularly its Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL),
  • UNICEF,
  • the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) –
  • the Council of Europe,
  •  the European Union,
  • the Organisation of American States,
  • the Commonwealth Secretariat,
  • the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO),
  • the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit)

Certain non-governmental organisations, such as

  • International Social Service,
  • the International Society of Family Law,
  • the International Chamber of Commerce,
  • the International Bar Association,
  • the Union internationale des Avocats,
  • the International Union of Latin Notaries,
  • the International Union of Sheriff Officers and Judicial Officers,

All maintain close contact with the Permanent Bureau and regularly send observers to attend Hague Conference meetings.

For the development of new Conventions, as well as for the monitoring of the practical operation of existing Conventions, the Permanent Bureau often appeals to other international organisations that have specific knowledge of the subject matter involved.

INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE

Plenary Sessions

Plenary Sessions meet in principle every four years in ordinary diplomatic session. In case of need, as occurred in 1966 and 1985, an Extraordinary Session may be held. The Plenary Sessions discuss and adopt the draft Conventions (and sometimes Recommendations) prepared by the Special Commissions and take decisions on the subjects to be included in the agenda for the Conference’s work. All of the texts adopted are brought together in a Final Act which is signed by the delegations. Under the rules of procedure of the Plenary Sessions each Member State has one vote. Decisions are taken by a majority of the votes cast by the delegations of Member States which are present at the vote. Non-Member States invited to participate on an equal footing with Member States also have the right to vote. Under a tradition which has been followed since the First Session, the President elected for the Plenary Session has always been the President of the Netherlands Standing Government Committee mentioned below, leading Delegate of the Netherlands.

Directing Organs

Under the Statute, the operation of the Conference is ensured by the Netherlands Standing Government Committee on Private International Law. Formally it is this Committee which sets the dates and the agenda for the Plenary Sessions. However, in practice, following a progressive constitutional evolution, the Member States have come to exercise a more direct influence on the decision-making process in this respect, as well as in other matters of general policy of the Conference. Thus, it is so that the Special Commissions of governmental experts meeting between Sessions make recommendations to the Plenary Sessions, which in turn make decisions concerning the agenda.

Secretariat

The activities of the Conference are organised by a secretariat – the Permanent Bureau – which has its seat at The Hague and whose officials must be of different nationalities. The Secretary General is currently assisted by five lawyers: a Deputy Secretary General, two First Secretaries and two Secretaries. The Permanent Bureau’s main task is the preparation and organisation of the Plenary Sessions and the Special Commissions. Its members carry out the basic research required for any subject that the Conference takes up. They also maintain and develop contacts with the National Organs, experts and delegates of Member States and the Central Authorities designated by the States Parties to the Hague Conventions on judicial and administrative co-operation, as well as with international organisations and, increasingly, respond to requests for information from users of the Conventions (lawyers, notaries, officials, companies, journalists).

Budget – Council of Diplomatic Representatives

The budget of the Permanent Bureau and the Special Commissions is submitted each year by the Secretary General for approval by the Council of Diplomatic Representatives of Member States. This Council also apportions the expenses among the Member States. The system of classification follows in principle the scheme which is applied in the Universal Postal Union.

ACHIEVEMENTS, MONITORING OF RESULTS AND WORK IN PROGRESS

Between 1893 and 1904 the Conference adopted seven international Conventions, six of which have been subsequently replaced by more modern instruments. From 1951 to 2008 the Conference adopted 38 international Conventions. Until 1960 the Conventions were drafted only in French; since then they have been drawn up in French and English. Among those that have been the most widely ratified, the following Conventions should be mentioned: civil procedure, service of process, taking of evidence abroad, legalisation, conflicts of laws relating to testamentary dispositions, maintenance obligations, recognition of divorces, protection of minors, international child abduction and intercountry adoption. Some of the Hague Conventions deal with the determination of the applicable law, some with the conflict of jurisdictions, some with the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and some with administrative and judicial co-operation between authorities. Some of the Hague Conventions combine one or more of these aspects of private international law.

From time to time, Special Commissions are held at The Hague to monitor the practical operation of Hague Conventions. In the past, such Commissions have been convoked for the Service and Evidence Conventions, the Child Abduction Convention, the Intercountry Adoption Convention and the Conventions on maintenance (support) obligations.

The Twenty-First Session, which was held in November 2007, adopted the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance and the Protocol on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES

In addition to its principal activities, the preparation and monitoring of the Hague Conventions, the Conference has expanded its activities into new fields. More information on the activities of the Conference may be found in the latest update of the Strategic Plan.

PUBLICATIONS

The Conventions prepared by the Hague Conference since 1951 appear in the Collection of Conventions which is published at regular intervals by the Permanent Bureau (latest edition: Collection of Conventions – 1951-2003). The preliminary documents, preliminary draft Conventions and minutes of discussions, as well as the Explanatory Reports on the texts adopted appear in the Proceedings edited after each Session. Practical Handbooks on the operation of the Service and Evidence Conventions, first published in 1983 and 1985 respectively, and are supplemented or revised from time to time.

Furthermore, an up-to-date list of publications about the Hague Conference and its Conventions in general is available on this website, as well as a selection of books and articles on the relationship between Hague Conventions and other international and regional instruments.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Permanent Bureau
Hague Conference on Private International Law
6, Scheveningseweg
2517 KT  THE HAGUE
the Netherlands
fax: +31 (0)70 360 4867
e-mail: secretariat@hcch.net

VISION, MISSION, STRENGTHS & VALUES

VISION

  • To work for a world in which individuals, families as well as companies and other entities whose lives and activities transcend the boundaries between different legal systems, enjoy a high degree of legal security.
  • To promote the orderly and efficient settlement of disputes, good governance and the rule of law, while respecting the diversity of legal traditions.

MISSION

  • To be a forum for the Member States for the development and implementation of common rules of private international law in order to co-ordinate the relationships between different private law systems in international situations.
  • To promote international judicial and administrative co-operation in the fields of protection of the family and children, civil procedure and commercial law.
  • To provide high-standard legal services and technical assistance for the benefit of Member States and States Parties to Hague Conventions, their government officials, judiciary and practitioners.
  • To provide high-quality and readily accessible information to Member States and States Parties to Hague Conventions, their government officials, judiciary, practitioners and the public in general.

STRENGTHS AND VALUES

Global Network

  • The strength of the Hague Conference derives from the links it maintains with its Member States and States Parties to Hague Conventions – representing all continents – their national experts, delegates, Central and other National Authorities, professional and academic communities and individuals, and from the co-operation with other international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Diversity of Legal Traditions 

  • The diversity of legal traditions constituting the Hague Conference makes it a unique forum for the development of universally acceptable solutions.

Experience

  • The Hague Conference is known for the high-quality and scientific excellence of its work, for the development of creative solutions and for its unrivalled contribution to private international law over a period of more than 100 years.

Reputation

  • The Hague Conference is a centre within which world experts and delegates are committed to working together on the basis of mutual trust, support and respect.

Location

  • The strengths of the Conference are enhanced by its location in The Hague, Centre for International Justice, and by the significant and sustained support offered by the Netherlands Government.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the “Hague Conference on Private International Law”?

The Hague Conference on Private International Law is an intergovernmental organisation, the purpose of which is “to work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law” (Article 1 of the Statute of the Hague Conference).

What is the difference between the “Hague Conference” and the “Hague Conventions”?

The term “Hague Conference on Private International Law” refers to the name of the intergovernmental organisation, whose purpose is “to work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law” (Article 1 of the Statute of the Hague Conference). The principal method used to achieve this goal consists in the negotiation and drafting of multilateral treaties, which are called “Hague Conventions”.
Between 1893 and 1904 the Conference adopted seven international Conventions, all of which have been subsequently replaced by more modern instruments. From 1951 to 2005 the Conference adopted 36 international Conventions. Until 1960 the Conventions were drafted only in French; since then they have been drawn up in French and English.

Among the texts which have been the most widely ratified should be mentioned the Conventions on civil procedure, on service of process and on taking of evidence abroad, the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Convention on the Conflicts of Laws Relating to Testamentary Dispositions, the Conventions dealing with maintenance obligations, the Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations and the Conventions on the protection of minors, on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and on intercountry adoption.

Some of the Hague Conventions deal with the determination of the applicable law, some with the conflict of jurisdictions, some with the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and some with administrative and judicial co-operation between authorities, and some combine one or more of these aspects of private international law.

N.B.: Not all Conventions concluded at The Hague are Conventions of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (e.g. the Hague Conventions of 1964 relating to a Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods (ULIS) and relating to a Uniform Law on the Formation of Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (ULF)).

What is the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference?

The Permanent Bureau is the secretariat of the Hague Conference. Its main task consists in the preparation and organisation of the Plenary Sessions and the Special Commissions. The officials of the Permanent Bureau must be of different nationalities. The Secretary General is assisted currently by four lawyers (one Deputy Secretary General, and three First Secretaries). For more information on the entire staff of the Permanent Bureau, click here. The Permanent Bureau carries out the basic research required for any subject that the Conference takes up. It also maintains and develops contacts with the National Organs, experts and delegates of Member States and the Central Authorities designated by the States Parties to the Hague Conventions on judicial and administrative co-operation, as well as with international organisations and, increasingly, responds to requests for information from users of the Conventions (lawyers, notaries, officials, companies, journalists, private persons, etc.). See also Articles 4 and 5 of the Statute of the Hague Conference.

Which States and Regional Economic Integration Organisations are Members of the Hague Conference?

The Hague Conference has currently 69 Members: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, the European Community, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela.

How does a State become a Member of the Hague Conference?

States which have participated in one or more of the earlier Sessions of the Conference may become Members of the Hague Conference by accepting its Statute. Other States must be admitted by vote: admission is decided upon by a majority of Member States voting on a proposal made by one or several of them. See Article 2 of the Statute of the Hague Conference.

What is a Session of the Hague Conference?

Use of the term “Session” can be traced back to the origins of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Indeed, the Organisation derives its name from the fact that it started as a series of ad hoc Conferences, so-called Sessions, convened on the initiative of the host government. It is only in 1951 that the Hague Conference became a permanent intergovernmental organisation.

The First Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law was convened in 1893 by the Netherlands Government on the initiative of T.M.C. Asser (Nobel Peace Prize 1911). Prior to the Second World War, six Sessions were held (1893, 1894, 1900, 1904, 1925 and 1928).

The Seventh Session in 1951 marked the beginning of a new era by the preparation of a Statute which made the Conference a permanent intergovernmental organisation. The Statute entered into force on 15 July 1955. Since 1956, regular Plenary Sessions have been held every four years. In case of need, as occurred in 1966 and 1985, an Extraordinary Session may be held.

The Plenary Sessions discuss and adopt the draft Conventions (and sometimes Recommendations) prepared by the Special Commissions and take decisions on the subjects to be included in the agenda for the Conference’s work. All of the texts adopted are brought together in a Final Act which is signed by the delegations. Under the rules of procedure of the Plenary Sessions each Member State has one vote. Decisions are taken by a majority of the votes cast by the delegations of Member States which are present at the vote. Non-Member States invited to participate on an equal footing with Member States also have the right to vote.

Under a tradition which has been followed since the First Session, the President elected for the Plenary Session has always been the leading Delegate of the Netherlands.
The Seventeenth Session marked the Centenary of the Conference and was held from 10-29 May 1993. The Eighteenth Session held in October 1996 adopted the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children and decided to institute a Special Commission charged with drawing up a draft Convention on the protection of adults.

The Nineteenth Session adopted, in December 2002, the Convention on the Law Applicable to Certain Rights in respect of Securities held with an Intermediary. In June 2005, the Twentieth Session adopted the Convention on Choice of Court Agreements.

What is a Special Commission of the Hague Conference?

The task of a Special Commission is to prepare a draft Convention (and sometimes Recommendations) which will then be discussed and adopted by the Plenary Session.
From time to time, Special Commissions are held at The Hague to monitor the practical operation of Hague Conventions, including the Hague Service and Evidence Conventions, the Hague Child Abduction Convention and the Intercountry Adoption Convention.
See Article 8 of the Statute of the Hague Conference. See also the section on Work in Progress

What are the National or Contact Organs?

In each Member State, a National Organ maintains liaison with the Hague Conference. Member Organisations designate a Contact Organ. See Article 7 of the Statute of the Hague Conference.

What work is currently being undertaken by the Hague Conference?

Currently, a new worldwide convention is being prepared on the subject of international recovery of child support and other forms of family maintenance.

Among the subjects retained in the agenda for the future work programme of the Conference are the following: questions of private international law raised by the information society, including electronic commerce; the conflict of jurisdictions, applicable law and international judicial and administrative co-operation in respect of civil liability for environmental damage; jurisdiction, and recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of succession upon death; jurisdiction, applicable law, and recognition and enforcement of judgments in respect of unmarried couples; assessment and analysis of transnational legal issues relating to indirectly held securities and security interests, taking into account in particular the work undertaken by other international organisations (Conclusions of the Council on General Affairs, April 2007).
See also the chapter on work in progress.

Is there a bibliography relating to the work of the Hague Conference?

Yes, there is a bibliography relating to the Hague Conference and its Conventions in general, but also for each Convention. First click on Conventions, then select the Convention you are interested in. Finally, click on “Bibliography” in the right-hand navigation menu.

Are the Proceedings of the Hague Conference published?

Yes. The preliminary documents, preliminary draft Conventions and minutes of discussions, as well as the Explanatory Reports on the texts adopted appear in the Proceedings (Actes et documents) edited after each Session. The publications can be ordered directly at the Permanent Bureau of the Conference; details concerning topics, price, etc. can be found by following the link of each publication.

Is there a full list of the Conventions of the Hague Conference on Private International Law?

Yes, you will find this list by clicking on the “Conventions

Conventions in Force in Hong Kong & China

  1. Statute of the Hague Conference on Private International Law
  2. Convention of 5 October 1961 on the Conflicts of Laws Relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions (HK)
  3. Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (HK)
  4. Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (China)
  5. Convention of 1 June 1970 on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations (HK)
  6. Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters (China)
  7. Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (HK)
  8. Convention of 1 July 1985 on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition (HK)
  9. Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (China)

When does a Hague Convention enter into force?

In general, the entering into force of a Hague Convention requires the deposit of three instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval (cf. e.g. Art. 46 (1) of the 1993 Intercountry Adoption Convention).
Thereafter, for each State ratifying, accepting or approving it subsequently, or acceding to it, the Convention enters into force three months after the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval or accession (cf. e.g. Art. 46 (2a) of the 1993 Adoption Convention).

N.B.: Not all the Hague Conventions follow the general rule explained above. Hence, to obtain a reliable answer here, each Convention must be verified separately. You can do so by clicking on Conventions and then consulting the Final Clauses of the particular Convention you are interested in.

How can I find out if a particular Hague Convention is in force?

First click on Conventions, then select the Convention you are interested in, and finally click on “Status table” in the right-hand navigation menu. The column “EIF” shows the date of entry into force for each Contracting State.

Is it possible to become a Party to a Hague Convention without being a Member of the Hague Conference?

Yes. In principle, a State which was not a Member of the Conference during the Session in which the Convention has been adopted, can accede to this Convention. This, however, is only possible once the Convention has entered into force. The States that are already Parties to the Convention must in some cases accept this accession. This system of acceptance varies from one Convention to another: some Conventions provide for a system of tacit acceptance (if there is no opposition over a certain period of time; see e.g. Art. 58 (3) of the 1996 Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children), whereas others require express acceptance by the States Parties to the Convention (see e.g. Art. 38 (4) of the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction). It should be noted that the Convention of 22 December 1986 on the Law Applicable to Contracts for the International Sale of Goods provides that every State (including Member States of the Conference) may accede to this Convention.

According to the Hague Conference’s terminology, ratification is, in general, reserved for Member States exclusively. There are, however, some exceptions. These include the Convention of 22 December 1986 on the Law Applicable to Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, which is open for signature and ratification by all States with no distinction, and the Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which is open for signature and ratification by all States that have participated in the Seventeenth Session.

Are there fees involved in becoming a Party to a Hague Convention?

No.

Who is the depositary of the Hague Conventions?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the depositary of the Hague Conventions.

What is the difference between a Contracting State and a State Party to a Convention?

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 23 May 1969 gives the followings descriptions:

Article 2 – Use of terms
1. For the purposes of the present Convention:
(…)
(f) ‘contracting State’ means a State which has consented to be bound by the treaty, whether or not the treaty has entered into force;
(g) ‘party’ means a State which has consented to be bound by the treaty and for which the treaty is in force;
(…)

What is the difference between signing, ratifying and acceding to a Hague Convention?

By signing a Hague Convention, a State expresses, in principle, its intention to become a Party to the Convention. However, signature does not, in any way, oblige a State to take further action (towards ratification or not).

Ratification involves the legal obligation for the ratifying State to apply the Convention. According to the Hague Conference’s terminology, ratification is, in general, reserved for Member States exclusively.

There are, however, some exceptions. These include the Convention of 22 December 1986 on the Law Applicable to Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, which is open for signature and ratification by all States with no distinction, and the Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which is open for signature and ratification by all States that have participated in the Seventeenth Session.

Others States wishing to become a Party to a Hague Convention may accede. This, however, is only possible once the Convention has entered into force. The States that are already Parties to the Convention must in some cases accept this accession. This system of acceptance varies from one Convention to another: some Conventions provide for a system of tacit acceptance (if there is no opposition over a certain period of time; see e.g. Art. 58 (3) of the 1996 Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children), whereas others require express acceptance by the States Parties to the Convention (see e.g. Art. 38 (4) of the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction).

It should be noted that the Convention of 22 December 1986 on the Law Applicable to Contracts for the International Sale of Goods provides that every State (including Member States of the Conference) may accede to this Convention

How can I find out if a State is a Party to a particular Hague Convention?

First, click on Conventions and select the Convention you are interested in; then click on “Status table” in the right-hand navigation menu.

How can I find out to which Hague Conventions a particular Hague Conference Member State is a Party?

Click on Member States and select the State concerned.

How can I find out whether a State has made reservations or declarations in relation to a particular Hague Convention?

Click on Conventions, choose the Convention you are interested in, and click on “Status table” in the right-hand navigation menu.
The column “Res/D/N” (= Reservations, declarations, notifications) provides a link to the relevant information for that State, which also shows the articles under which the reservation or declaration has been made.

How can I find out if a Contracting State to a particular Convention has extended the application of the Convention to one or more of its territories?

First click on “Conventions” and select the Convention you are interested in. Then press the button “Status table” in the right-hand navigation menu.

Where you see a figure in the column “Ext”, the corresponding State has extended the Convention to its territories. Clicking that figure will lead you to the table of extensions. This table shows to which territories the application of the Convention has been extended, the dates of these extensions and the dates of entry into force of the Convention for these territories, as well as any declarations or reservations that may have been made, and authorities that may have been designated for these territories. There is also, for some Conventions only, a table of acceptances of extensions available.

How can I find out if the accession of a particular State to a certain Convention has been accepted by other Contracting States?

For some Conventions, the accession only has effect in the relations between the acceding State and those Contracting States which have accepted the accession.
First click on “Conventions” in the left-hand navigation menu and select the Convention you are interested in. Then press the button “Status table” in the right-hand navigation menu.

Where you see A* in the column “Type”, the accession of the corresponding State has been accepted by other States. Clicking “A*” will lead you to the table of acceptances of the accession. This table shows which Contracting States have accepted the accession, the dates of the acceptances and the dates of entry into force between the acceding State and the accepting States.