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The Central Authority - Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service

The Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 designates the Lord Chancellor as the Central Authority for England and Wales and the Department of Justice as the central authority for Northern Ireland.  In Scotland, the Secretary of State is the Central Authority.  The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service, discharges the functions of the Central Authority in Northern Ireland.

The duties of the Central Authority in Northern Ireland are carried out by the Central Business Unit, Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service which is the designated Central Authority for Northern Ireland. The Central Business Unit is also the designated Central Authority under the Revised Brussels II Regulation (“Brussels IIa”) having been appointed in accordance with Article 67 of the Regulation.

Application to the Central Authority

Although there is no specified form for making an application to a Central Authority under the Hague or European Conventions, in cases where a child has been abducted from Northern Ireland (outgoing cases) applicants are provided with an Application (Questionnaire) and Notes for Guidance.  This enables the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service to send out an application which broadly follows the model suggested by the Hague Convention.  An application from another Convention country in cases where it is believed that a child has been abducted to Northern Ireland (incoming cases) will be accepted in any form, provided that it contains sufficient information.  Requests for information and assistance are usually made by telephone or by letter.

Staff in the Central Business Unit of the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service process applications and provide information to parents, solicitors and others on the steps they may take to recover children who have been removed unlawfully to or from Northern Ireland.  The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service communicates regularly with Central Authorities in other countries regarding cases, passing on information and providing assistance where necessary.

If your child has been taken to a Convention country (see Countries in the Conventions), you should contact the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service.  You will be asked to provide brief details over the telephone and you will be sent an application/questionnaire to complete.  Alternatively, you can complete the application by using the Application (Questionnaire) on this website.  The completed application should be sent in hard copy to the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service.

The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service is open from Monday to Friday (9 am to 5 pm) and the contact details for child abduction matters are:

Operational Policy Branch

Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service
4th Floor
Laganside House
23 - 27 Oxford Street
Belfast BT1 3LA


E-mail:  InternationalChildAbduction@courtsni.gsi.gov.uk
Tel:  +44 030 0200 7812 (Ext. 70008 or 70019).