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Inter-country adoption case


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In Buama (inter-country adoption – competent court) Ghana [2012] UKUT 146 (IAC) Upper Tribunal Judge Warr held that there is no basis for the UK Border Agency to go behind a court order made by a competent court in a foreign country. Where such an order is valid on its face the Agency would need to prove with evidence, for example expert evidence, that the order was not valid.

Tanveer Ahmed [2002] UKIAT 00439, [2002] INLR 345, [2002] Imm AR 318 does not apply to court documents apparently. In this controversial old case Mr Justice Collins, then President of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, held that documents are not self proving even if prima facie valid and some sort of additional proof is required beyond the document itself. Some might take from this the absurdity of the Tanveer Ahmed approach while others might question why the tribunal has departed from that approach in this new case.

The tribunal also in Buama reaffirms an old immigration adoption case, VB v Entry Clearance Officer Ghana [2002] UKIAT 01323: most inter-country adoptions are probably with a view to facilitating entry to the UK as that would be their very purpose. What is really meant by an ‘adoption of convenience’ is one that has no substance in it, like a marriage of convenience.

The judge goes on to find that there was a genuine transfer of parental responsibility in this case and the appeal was allowed.

A note of caution in inter-country adoption cases: these are complex and it is all too easy inadvertently to break the law. Watch out in particular for section 83 of the Adoption Act 2002, which makes it an offence to bring a child into the United Kingdom in circumstances where the section applies and the Adoptions with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005 (unamended original version here) have not been complied with. Legal advice is likely to be necessary in these cases but further information can be found in the UK Border Agency leaflet Inter-Country Adoptions and the Immigration Rules and the relevant Immigration Directorate Instructions on Adopted Children.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.