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he believes led to the successful abduction. Others interviewed spoke critically of the need for lawyers to be better informed because people usually have no experience in this or any other area of law and will think, as in this case, that they “just had to leave things to the legal team”. This interviewee said that the initial legal advice sought and received was both wrong and negligent, with no knowledge of Hague matters. Even comparatively recently, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in the jurisdiction concerned with this case had apparently not even heard of the Hague Convention.40 One mother said that “getting to the right people was a problem” and, in some cases, this seemed a matter more of luck than judgement. Several people reported hearing about reunite from radio or television programmes which they, or someone they knew, happened to have heard. They felt strongly that this was a piece of good fortune but that this was far too important an issue to have been merely left to chance. Several parents spoke of the disparity in the quality of knowledge and advice provided from those experienced and those who are not experienced in abduction matters. One father argued for a mentoring system which would help to avoid this problem41 and would give confidence to those using the services of more general lawyers in these matters.

Time and again left-behind parents spoke of consulting lawyers when their children were taken, only to be told that there was nothing that could be done. This was in spite of the State of habitual residence being both within Europe and a Signatory State to the Hague Convention. Another left-behind parent was given incorrect legal advice and told to commence domestic legal proceedings in the abducted-to State, notwithstanding that that State was within the European Union and a Signatory State of the Hague Convention. This added enormously to the time and expense in obtaining the eventual return of the child(ren) concerned and to the uncertainty and instability for all parties,

40 This confirms the very strong anecdotal evidence that specialist practitioners have provided to the author on this point relating to recent advice given by various authorities to those whose children have been abducted and have been told that there is nothing that can be done, notwithstanding the existence of the Hague Convention and the revised Brussels 11 Regulation.

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This is a current concern for reunite into which we hope to be looking further in the near future.

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