Family Law Awards 2020
Shortlist announced - time to place your vote!
Court of Protection Practice 2020
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Latest articles
Resolution issues Brexit notes for family lawyers ahead of IP completion day
Family lawyer organisation, Resolution, has issued two joint notes to assist family lawyers in England and Wales ahead of the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period at 11 pm on 31 December...
Online filing is real-time on New Year's Eve: practice direction change to accommodate EU withdrawal arrangements
I have heard that there will be an amendment to the relevant practice directions to provide that online applications received on New Year’s Eve after 4:30 PM and before 11:00 PM will count as...
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust v AB
The issue in this case concerned AB’s capacity to make specific decisions about treatment relating to her anorexia nervosa. She was 28 years old and had suffered with anorexia since the age of...
EU laws continue until at least 2038 and beyond
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.  But in matters of law it fully leaves on 31 December 2020.  But EU laws will continue to apply, and be applied, in the English family courts from 1...
Remote hearings in family proceedings – how is justice perceived?
The motion for the recent Kingsley Napley debate:  “This House believes remote hearings are not remotely fair” was carried with a fairly balanced 56% in favour and 44% against....
View all articles

David Hodson on International Family Law: Four Jurisdictions Conference in Edinburgh

Sep 29, 2018, 17:39 PM
Slug : DavidHodson03022011
Meta Title :
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Feb 3, 2011, 09:13 AM
Article ID : 93465

David HodsonThe British Isles is a curious and confusing family law location! It constantly bewilders family lawyers in other jurisdictions and with very good reason. It's boundaries, it's legal systems, its political turmoils and differences and separate electoral accountabilities are founded in history going back over 1000 years. It comprises five countries (excluding the surrounding islands), four family law jurisdictions, two EU member states (UK and Eire) and one geographical entity. Predictably many families move frequently and freely, settling long-term, sometimes for many generations, in other countries yet retaining their cultural origins. Family lawyers within the British Isles need to understand both the cross-border issues and the relevant national laws.

About 16 years or so ago lawyers with practices bordering the Irish Sea met to discuss these issues, now comprising Scotland, Northern Ireland and north-west England (with Wales but most definitely not Southeast England) and the Republic of Ireland. Their annual conferences in late January, rotating between the countries, are very successful and have built up a considerable momentum, informing delegates of the crucial issues facing the jurisdictions. This past weekend (28-29 January) in Edinburgh the conference looked at approaches to relocation, marital agreements and self help documentation. Predictably there was almost unanimous condemnation of the English law on relocation, but this is a matter of global consent! Except by some of the English judiciary. Whilst England has moved closer to presumptively binding marital agreements from Radmacher, the Supreme Court decision in October, there is still a discretion. In contrast Scotland, with an excellent presentation by Morag Wise, has a very high level of certainty, and agreements play a central place in the making of final settlements. The burden is strenuously on the party seeking to set aside. The Republic of Ireland has a shorter history in these agreements, primarily in the context of a separation yet a few recent cases highlight the importance of finality. Anne Caldwell gave a refreshing insight on the issues as a practising solicitor in Northern Ireland.

A highlight of the conference was a role play on self-help issues including implications of a spouse taking a personal diary, indiscreet photographs, bank statements on hall table, in a briefcase and locked in a filing cabinet in the study of one of the spouses, removing a laptop or copying the hard drive, interfering with personal and commercial communication and intercepting the postman! The difference of opinions was dramatic. Some judges, especially who had previously worked in civil cases, were adamant that confidentiality ruled the day and that there should be no or minimal opportunity to have access to self-help documents. Many practising lawyers, of all 4 jurisdictions, were equally adamant that the greater importance was to ascertain the overall financial circumstances to produce a fair outcome. Hillary Coveney of Dublin and Abigail Bennett of Liverpool demonstrated the frustrations for the clients seeking reliable disclosure.

Some presentations were disappointing: two weeks after the Law Commission published its consultation paper, should a speaker really say: "which I think contains ..."? Most were high quality and very practical. The conference avoids posturings and positioning sometimes found in other conferences. These are practitioners, young and very experienced, who work closely together in very local but cross-border cases. They don't seek to change the laws of other countries. They seek to share the enjoyment and challenges of professional practice. The organising committee in Edinburgh have yet again produced an excellent conference.

David Hodson is a Consultant at The International Family Law Group. He acts in complex family law cases, often with an international element. 

He is an English specialist accredited solicitor, mediator, family arbitrator, Deputy District Judge at the Principal Registry of the Family Division, High Court, London and also an Australian qualified solicitor, barrister and mediator. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and author of A Practical Guide to International Family Law (Jordan Publishing, 2008). He is chair of the Family Law Review Group of the Centre for Social Justice. He can be contacted on

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Related Articles
Load more comments
Comment by from