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Zahra Pabani
Zahra Pabani
Partner - Family Law
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Coram Conference 2018: Family lawyers in the dark where Brexit will take them
Date:8 NOV 2018
Brexit is creating a ton of uncertainty for family lawyers and their clients. That was the unsurprising key takeaway of the 'Brexit for Breakfast' panel discussion that kicked off Coram Chambers' annual conference at The Law Society in London. 

From EU citizens rights to the impact of Britain's decision to leave the EU on measures of cooperation relating to children and parental responsiblity, speakers struggled to formulate clear answers to the key question: what is Britain's regulatory and legislative framework going to look like post-Brexit?

Diana Parker, a family law partner at Withers, told an audience of mainly barristers and solicitors that the direct impact of petitions under EU law and Brussels IIa will be a grey area post-Brexit. 

For example, the EU maintenance regulation currently plays an important role in existing legislative frameworks. If there is no deal, Parker stressed this will place the legal community for some serious challenges.

"For a start, enforcement will become less easy," she said, wondering whether "we simply return to how things used to be [before the UK joined the EU]."

The panel at Coram Chambers' annual conference

Next up was Mark Twomey QC, addressing the impact of Brexit on measures of cooperation relating to children and parental responsibility. 

"The great thing about Brussels IIa is the ease of recognition of judgments. I had a case where a Polish court quickly recognised the jurisdiction of an English court, even though it was an abduction case," Twomey said.

Describing a range of different Brexit scenarios, he stressed that enforcement and the smooth running of enforcement actions may come under pressure.

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Also speaking at the event, Kim Vowden, of Kingsley Napley, touched on the uncertainty that large groups of European Union citizens face in Britain.

Vowden described what will happen to EU citizens rights in case the U.K. government and Brussels do strike a deal. ”In theory, based on three key questions, [EU citizens that are already here] should get so-called settled status."

Vowden pointed out that the settled status costs around 65 pounds, and for those that already hold permanent residency, the scheme is free.

"Under Home Office standards, an absolute bargain," he said.

The reason the Home Office is making the procedure fairly straightforward "is not because it is trying to be friendly," Vowden stressed., but simply because it "involves millions and millions of people, [so the Home Office] wants to make it as automated and simple as possible."

Ultimately, Irish citizens may be the true winners of Brexit, Vowden said.

"They get the best of both worlds. They are automatically considered to be settled here [in the U.K.], while they continue to be EU citizens," he concluded.
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