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“Not only encouraged but essential”: judicial collaboration in international family disputes

Date:24 JUN 2013

Edward Bennett

Solicitor, Legal Secretary to the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales.

"Globalisation, and the ever increasing movement of persons across borders, has meant that it is no longer possible not to integrate a consideration of international factors into the domestic practice of family law.

Judicial Collaboration has, since at least 1998, been established as a key tool to assist practitioners and judges in resolving cases with an international angle, from across the family law spectrum, in the best interests of children and of justice in general. It has: (i) been approved by the Supreme Court; (ii) been either engaged with, utilised, treated as a permanent feature, or cited with approval by the last four Presidents of the Family Division; (iii) proved key to the resolution of family cases across the United Kingdom jurisdictions; (iv) had its value recognised internationally; and (v) had its availability considered a relevant factor by the English courts in their decision making process.   

It is good practice for practitioners to assess whether Judicial Collaboration is suitable for use in a case prior to bringing it to a judge's attention and should be an integral feature of a practitioner's case planning. However, what commentary there is on it is largely confined to publications specialising in international family law. This article, in acknowledging the fact that ever increasing numbers of practitioners are finding themselves faced with cases involving an international dimension, seeks to rectify this imbalance and, from an unofficial and personal perspective, to raise awareness of what judicial collaboration is, how it is used, ways to request it, and what benefits it can bring."

The full version of this article appears in the July 2013 issue of Family Law.