201611.29

British Citizenship Matters, Both at Home and Abroad

One of the most important benefits of British citizenship is that it means that the law is always there to protect you, both at home and abroad. In one case that proved the point, the High Court ruled that it had power to oversee the welfare of a vulnerable pensioner although she had lived in Spain for a number of years.

The case concerned a dispute between siblings as to where their 76-year-old mother should live. One of them argued that she should remain living with him in Spain, but his brother and sister insisted that her welfare demanded her return to England and sought a mandatory order to that effect. They also wished to be granted access to their mother’s home in the UK to keep it in order and prevent its deterioration.

Partially due to their brother’s lack of cooperation with the legal process, the evidential picture remained unclear. However, the Court expressed a preliminary view that the pensioner probably lacked the mental capacity to make important decisions for herself, including about where she should live.

The evidence indicated that she had for several years spent the majority of her time living in Spain and doubt therefore existed as to whether she was habitually resident there, rather than in England. That, however, did not put her outside the protection of the law after the Court ruled that it had inherent jurisdiction to consider her welfare by virtue of her status as a British citizen.

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