Joanne Clement acts in important case on diplomatic immunity and Article 3 and 6 of the ECHR


Diplomatic immunity does not breach Article 3 or 6 of the ECHR

In London Borough of Barnet v The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs [2021] EWHC 1253 (Fam), the Family Division (sitting unusually as a Divisional Court, made up of the President and Sir Duncan Ouseley) has given an important judgment concerning the interaction between the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The local authority sought a declaration of incompatibility under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998, alleging that various provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (“the VCDR”), as incorporated into domestic law by the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, were incompatible with Articles 3 and 6 of the ECHR. The local authority argued that diplomatic immunity prevented a court from hearing or deciding an application brought by the local authority for protective measures to be taken in respect of children of members of a diplomatic mission, which amounted to a breach of the child’s Article 3 or 6 rights under the ECHR. The Court held that there was no breach of Convention rights, and that it would not have been appropriate to make a declaration of incompatibility in any event.

Joanne Clement acted for the Foreign Secretary, led by Sir James Eadie QC and Professor Vaughan Lowe (and leading Jason Pobjoy and Belinda McRae).

The judgment is available here.