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Website reviews

1 March 02

Review of sites relating to child abduction and other topics the concern of the Hague Conference on private international law

by O’Carroll, Derek

site of the month:

www.incadat.com

Every year, several thousand children are the victims of international child abduction. The three Hague Conventions, to which a large number of countries are signatories, provides for procedures whereby those children may be returned home. This website was established by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference to make accessible decisions of the courts of the signatories to the Convention. The idea is that the interpretation of the Convention should be similar whether the matter is before the courts of Samoa or Switzerland. So on this site, in both English and French, are a huge collection of decisions, both reported and unreported, on cases involving the Hague Conventions. Cases may be accessed by a simple search, by a full text search, level of court, State (which includes Scotland) and case name. There are 40 Scottish cases, most of them reported elsewhere. For each case, a summary of the facts and the decision is given as well as the citation. The full text of the decision is only available for the more recent decisions which are already on the Scottish courts website. There is also an advanced search option which allows searches under a greater range of headings such as outcome and judges. Finally, there is a very useful feature which provides a menu of about 40 issues (such as voluntary return and child’s best interests) which then link to all the cases in which those issues arose. There is no way in which a complete listing of all cases can be obtained. Neither does there seem to be a simple way of returning to the home page from a search which is a pity since that is where the text of the Conventions is found via the Hague Conference on International Private Law website(see below). The site requests that a donation be made by users (  100 is suggested). But if you are mean, or a curious website reviewer, a password and username can be obtained for free just by leaving the donations box empty. Don’t say I told you so. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in this area, both academics and practitioners. It could be usefully further developed. But maybe they don’t have the funds to do so...

Subjective Rating (where 5 is excellent and 1 is poor and no rating indicate that that category has not been assessed)

Speed 2/5

Usefulness to practitioners  4/5

Usefulness to non-practitioners  1/5

Site design 3/5

Ease of use 4/5

Updating frequency 4/5

www.hcch.net

The Hague Conference on Private International Law is, as we all know, an intergovernmental  organisation the purpose of which is to work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law. So, it is kept fairly busy. The principal method used is the drafting of treaties or conventions in all sorts of areas of IPL (such as conflict of laws in contracts, wills trusts and executries etc.). This site has an up-to-date events page, which is not a call to seminars or boozy receptions but rather a continuous update on which States have acceded to or accepted which Conventions. It also doubles as an announcements or news page. Of most value is the Conventions page where one can access the full text of the relevant Convention and a status report identifying which States have acceded or accepted which Conventions. In addition, for some of the Conventions, much more very useful information is found such as explanatory memoranda, bibliography and translations. Another page takes the browser to the publications page where documents such as the ‘Proceedings’ of the Diplomatic Session can be purchased in paper and, usefully, in CD-ROM format. If you want to know what the Hague  Conference is up to at the moment, the Work in Progress tells you all complete with links to the appropriate materials. And all of this for free. Presumably we are all paying for it in another way however...

Speed 4/5

Usefulness to practitioners  4/5

Usefulness to non-practitioners  1/5

Site design 3/5

Ease of use 4/5

Updating frequency 4/5

Derek O’Carroll welcomes comments on the reviews and suggestions for sites to review