Diplomatic Immunity and ECHR

27 May, 2021

A Divisional Court, comprised of the President of the Family Division and Sir Duncan Ouseley, handed down its judgment on London Borough of Barnet v AG & Ors [2021] EWHC 1253 (Fam), concerning the question whether certain provisions of the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The London Borough of Barnet (“the Local Authority”) had sought care orders in respect of a diplomat’s children. The proceedings had been stayed by Mr Justice Mostyn because of diplomatic immunity. However, given the importance of the issues involved, the Judge granted permission for the Local Authority to pursue an application for a declaration of incompatibility under s. 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998: viz, for a declaration that various provisions of the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, which gives domestic effect to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, are incompatible with ECHR rights.

The Divisional Court dismissed the application. The Judgment dated 13 May 2021 is available here.

Professor Dan Sarooshi QC and Peter Webster were instructed by HB Public Law on behalf of the London Borough of Barnet, as were Hannah Markham QC and Ms Kate Tomkins.

Professor Vaughan Lowe QC was instructed by the Government Legal Department on behalf of the Secretary of State for Foreign Commonwealth and Development Affairs,  as were Sir James Eadie QC, Ms Belinda McRae, Ms Joanne Clement and Mr Jason Pobjoy.