Solicitors and barristers who are in private practice in Northern Ireland represent applicants in Convention cases before a Northern Ireland court. The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service does not represent applicants at court.
All applications in cases where the child has been abducted to Northern Ireland (incoming cases) are dealt with in the High Court in Belfast and cases are listed for hearing as quickly as possible. Adjournments are limited to a maximum of 21 days.
When the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service receives an application from another Central Authority for the return of a child, an experienced solicitor from a firm familiar with these types of cases is asked to take the case. The solicitor is then responsible for making any application for legal aid, for taking the applicant's (now his/her client’s) instructions, assembling the evidence, if necessary with help from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service, and filing affidavits of fact about foreign law. If necessary, the solicitor may also instruct a barrister to attend the hearing.
The solicitor may apply for ex parte orders (orders without notice to the other party) to protect the child. These could include orders requiring the surrender of passports or prohibiting the removal of the child from the jurisdiction or a specific address.
Applicants are not normally required to attend the hearing.