Case of European Court of Human Rights, September 10, 2019 (case Strand Lobben and Others v. Norway [GC])

Resolution Date:September 10, 2019

Preliminary objection dismissed (Art. 35) Admissibility criteria;(Art. 35-3-a) Ratione personae;Violation of Article 8 - Right to respect for private and family life (Article 8-1 - Respect for family life);Non-pecuniary damage - award (Article 41 - Non-pecuniary damage;Just satisfaction);Non-pecuniary damage - finding of violation sufficient (Article 41 - Non-pecuniary damage;Just satisfaction)


Information Note on the Court’s case-law 232

August-September 2019

Strand Lobben and Others v. Norway [GC] - 37283/13

Judgment 10.9.2019 [GC]

Article 8

Article 8-1

Respect for family life

Shortcomings in decision-making process resulting in adoption of vulnerable child by foster parents: violation

Facts – In September 2008 the first applicant, who was single, gave birth to a child X (the second applicant). The child-protection services had held that she was in need of guidance on how to care for X. She therefore agreed to stay with her son at a family centre during the first months of the child’s life, so that her ability to give him proper care could be evaluated. Three weeks later she withdrew her consent. However, the child-protection services obtained, first, an emergency care order in October 2008, in application of which the child was entrusted to a foster family, then a permanent care order in March 2009. In December 2011 the Social Welfare Board issued an order removing the mother’s parental authority and authorising the foster parents to adopt the child. This order was upheld by the City Court in February 2012. Although the first applicant’s general situation had improved (she had married and had had a daughter, for whom she seemed able to care), it was held that she was not sufficiently capable of seeing or understanding the special needs of the child, who was described as vulnerable by experts and who, if those needs were not met, was at significant risk of failing to develop normally. The child’s fundamental attachment was with his foster parents, as he had lived with them almost since birth, and adoption would give him a sense of belonging and security for longer than a placement in a foster family.

In a judgment delivered on 30 November 2017 (see Information Note 212), a Chamber of the Court concluded, by four votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 8. In the Court’s view, given that there had been no positive development in the first applicant’s maternal competence in the contact situations throughout the three years in which she had had rights of access, that the decision-making process had been fair, and having regard to the fact that the domestic authorities had had the benefit of direct contact with all the persons concerned, the contested measures had been justified by exceptional circumstances and had been motivated by an overriding requirement pertaining to the child’s best interests.

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