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International Protection of Adults

Both the ageing of the population worldwide and the increasing transnational mobility have caused the need to ensure the protection in international situations of more vulnerable adults by implementing legal and international co-operation regulations. In many countries, the increase in longevity is followed by the corresponding increasing in old-age related diseases. Furthermore, taking into account that nowadays it is much easier to make international travels, many retired persons decide to spend the last years of their lives abroad.

As a result thereof, a higher number of international private law issues are arising in connection with, for instance, the administration or the disposal of property pertaining to persons suffering from an impairment or from insufficiency of their personal faculties. Whenever an adult has taken anticipated measures regarding his or her care and/or representation in case of incapacity, the international validity of such measures must be established. Issues like the applicable legislation, the person by whom the adult should be represented and the powers to be granted to such representative are matters that have to be addressed. Within such a scenario, it is vital to be able to rely on clear rules allowing the determination of the authorities that have jurisdiction to take the measures directed to the protection of the person and/or the property of the adult.

The Convention on the International Protection of Adults done at The Hague on the 13th day of January, 2000, addresses most of these issues by providing rules on the jurisdiction, the applicable law and the recognition and international enforcement of measures of protection. This convention also establishes a mechanism for the co-operation between the authorities of the Contracting States.

Under the Convention, the measures of protection regarding the person or the property of an adult which are taken by a Contracting State shall be recognised by operation of law in all other Contracting States. Limitations thereto depend only on the grounds for refusal of the recognition.

The Convention on the International Protection of Adults was approved by Resolution of the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic no.52/2014 published on 19 June 2014, and it was ratified by Decree of the President of the Republic no.44/2014 of 19 June 2014. It entered into force in the Portuguese legal system on 01.07.2018 (Notice no. 41/2018 of 12 April 2018, through which the deposit of the ratification instrument became public).

In Portugal, the Prosecutor General’s Office is the designated Central Authority for purposes of the Convention on the International Protection of Adults.

The Central Authority is responsible for the enforcement of the obligations provided for in the Convention, the core aims of which are the facilitation of effective communications between Contracting States and the provision of mutual assistance.

The co-operation system – which is flexible and allows the use of the existing channels – comprises, among others, the exchange of information, the facilitation of solutions agreed upon by way of litigation and the discovery of the whereabouts of missing adults.


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