1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children
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About the project

The Singapore Academy of Law’s Law Reform Committee considered whether Singapore should accede to the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children 1996. The Convention seeks to resolve challenges raised by cross-border family disputes by addressing the law in the following four areas:

(a) Jurisdiction. Under the 1996 Convention, the State of the child’s habitual residence (if it is a Contracting State), will ordinarily have pre-eminent jurisdiction to deal with cases relating to the child’s welfare. There are also other bases for jurisdiction for urgent measures or where another State may be better placed to deal with the child for defined reasons.

(b) Choice of law. A State applies its own domestic law when it exercises jurisdiction under the 1996 Convention. However, if the State has to address a specific issue relating to the determination or termination of the scope of parental responsibility, it will apply the law of the child’s habitual residence.

(c) Recognition and enforcement of orders. Orders made by a State exercising jurisdiction under the 1996 Convention will be automatically recognised or enforceable in other Contracting States.Recognition and enforcement may only be refused in limited circumstances.

(d) Co-operation. The 1996 Convention provides means for Contracting States to work with each other to achieve its objectives. Requests for co-operation and information in respect of children in
Contracting States will be channelled through the Central Authority appointed in each Contracting State. However, most of these obligations are voluntary and not compulsory. The 1996 Convention establishes a formal framework for such cooperation.

The Committee recommended that Singapore should consider acceding to the 1996 Hague Convention. Among other things, it felt that the Convention increases clarity and certainty as to the pre-eminent
jurisdiction in a multi-jurisdictional dispute, which will obviate a race by parties to request multiple courts to exercise jurisdiction over the same child for technical advantages in litigation. Once jurisdiction is met, there is automatic enforcement and recognition in all Contracting States. This will mean that Singapore orders will be recognised and enforced in all Contracting States, even though Singapore courts will then have to recognise the orders of other Contracting States. Moreover, the Convention furthers the best interests of children through its clear child centricity in its approach and range of reliefs.

Project status: Completed

  • The report was published in August 2017.

Areas of law

Family law


Report on the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children

Click on the image above to view the paper

Last updated 23 May 2019