Amanda Dench chairs session at International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice conference

On 3rd July 2019, hundreds of delegates descended on the doors of the University of Westminster in London for the start of the prestigious three-day International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice conference. 

Amanda Dench, joint head of family law and founding partner at Miles & Partners Solicitors in London, and her assistant Paige Campbell were fortunate enough to be invited to act as a chair and an assistant rapporteur respectively at this renowned conference which, this year, was centered on the topic of ‘Gender, Inclusivity and Protecting the 21st Century Family’

The conference was opened by Lady Hale, President of the Supreme Court, with a speech reflecting on the legal evolution of the concept of family over her time in practice. A published copy of Lady Hale’s speech is available by clicking here.

Attendees from across the world collected to create a hive of intellectual discussion, shared experiences and develop lasting professional relationships. Specialists in attendance ranged from academics, judges, lawyers, psychologists, mediators, representatives from non-governmental organisations and many other professionals who interact with modern families. 

In her role as one of the chairpersons, Amanda Dench led a session exploring themes of the relationship of trauma and bias in the evolving family; considering the wellbeing of family practitioners in international relocation cases and examining the patriarchal ‘ownership’ of women and subsumption of a woman’s identity in the assumption that the majority of women and their children will still take the husband’s name after marriage.

As an assistant rapporteur, Legal Assistant Paige Campbell was responsible for attending the various seminars and accurately summarising their core content, drawing out common areas of concern and issues and themes that emerged across the conference. These reports then formed the basis for drafting, and discussion of the Conference’s Conclusions and Resolutions. Once completed, this report will be invaluable in reviewing the laws across a broad spectrum of family law and recommendations for the way forward.

Presentations covered some of the most controversial aspects of family law across multiple jurisdictions ranging from the domestic and international law’s limited and ineffective response to surrogacy to questioning whether relocation laws have negatively reinforced a notion that parenting is a responsibility for women and an ‘option extra’ for men. 

All in all, the conference marked an invaluable way to identify the limitations of current laws affecting evolving families and discussions on the appropriate way to address these difficulties. Each evening of the conference was wrapped up with a drinks event which allowed further discussions across researchers in this field, concluding with a final farewell supper reception and garden party at the well-known Drapers’ Hall.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published. You should always take legal advice relating to your individual circumstances.