Minor’s Right to Information in civil actions (MiRI) – Improving children’s right to information in cross-border civil cases

Project co-funded by the European Union Justice Programme 2014-2020, JUST-JCOO-AG-2018, under Grant Agreement No 831608.

 

Participants

University of Genoa, Coordinator (Scientific Responsible Prof. Ilaria Queirolo); Universitat De Valencia; Institute Of Private International Law Sofia; Sia Biznesa Augstskola Turiba (Latvia); Defence for Children International Italy; European Association For Family And Succession Law.

Duration: 1.1.2020 – 31.12.2021 (24 months)

The child’s fundamental right to participate and express his/her views in proceedings concerning him/her is one of the guiding principles of the 1989 United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (as stated in art. 12), and it consists in one of the main preconditions to ensure that the child’s best interests are taken in primary considerations in all cases concerning them. The right of children to be heard in legal proceedings is also granted by the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights (ECHR), as incorporated into art. 8 according to the interpretation given by the European Court of Human Rights. Accordingly, the same principles are contained in art. 24 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, on the basis of which EU regulations, as Regulation (EC) No. 2201/2003, have explicitly stated that a child is to be given the opportunity to be heard in legal proceedings.

However, the child’s fundamental right to participate and express his/her views in the aforementioned proceedings cannot be effectively exercised (either directly or indirectly) if the child does not receive adequate knowledge and support. While EU regulations in matters of parental responsibility and other related matters introduced some important procedural changes that impact upon children involved in family proceedings, the very same instruments did not impose any change to domestic child consultation procedures. As a consequence, given the fragmentation in substantive law of the different MSs, significant divergence exists between the Member States in procedures for giving adequate information to children. Whereas tools and practices diverge in different Member States to comply with local and international obligations, uniform EU law requires a shared approach to the matter, to ensure that EU law is consistency applied in all Member States. This raises the need for a development of common practices following a comparative investigation at the national and international level.

Several measures can be taken to create appropriate, safe, uniform child-friendly conditions of participation. To achieve this, the development of a system in which children are able to understand their rights and the procedures should be a priority.

The Project aims at identifying national current practices regarding the right of the child to be informed in civil proceedings, so as to identify common best practices and create guidelines that might or should be applied in all EU Member States, also with the objective of harmonizing and integrating their national systems, both form a procedural and substantive perspective, as much as possible.

The most innovative aspect of the project is the elaboration of common best practices on the child’s information in proceedings: even if the need has been highlighted by numerous studies on children’s fundamental rights in civil proceedings, a consensus on the content of such practices still seems not to have been reached in domestic MSs legislation, as the necessary pre-emptive research to find possible common grounds is still lacking.

Expected results:

1) The enhancement and effective implementation of children’s rights in civil proceedings, in the application of the instruments of EU law.

2) The promotion of a judicial system respectful of the rights of the child to receive adequate information on proceedings in which he/she is involved.

3) Awareness raising and specialized knowledge of legal practitioners working in the field (lawyers and judges).

This webpage will host the e-deliverable of the project, which will be freely accessible online.

In particular, this webpage will host the database of domestic provisions, case law, best practices, and case studies on six EU member States and at the EU level.

Main activities and deliverables:

1) Collection of relevant domestic and supranational provisions, case law and practices. Development of National Reports on Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, Bulgaria. Development of a specific report dedicated to social workers and psycho-social practitioners.

2) Organization of best practices exchange conferences: n. 5 at local level in Italy ( Defence for Children and Unige), Bulgaria, Spain, and Latvia; n. 1 final event at the international level (EFL).

3) Development of a database of domestic provisions, case law, best practices, and case studies

4) Guidelines on cross-border best practices on children’s right to information in cross-border civil cases.

 

Disclaimer excluding Commission responsibility - The content of the MiRI Project (JUST-JCOO-AG-2018-831608), and its deliverables, amongst which this webpage, represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.