Peter G Harris, Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy, DSPSW, University of Oxford. The public history of the Children Act 1989 has been well documented not least by Cretney in his history, Family Law in the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 2003). What is less well documented is the private history of what it was about the way the policy-making and legislative process was handled within the government machine that may have contributed to the perceived success of that Act.
Better to understand that private history and what it may tell us about the process of law making, the author interviewed some of those most centrally involved in that process and convened a seminar at St Anne's College, Oxford in March 2006 at which some of the principal players discussed their experience in developing and legislating the policy which became the 1989 Act. This article distils and records their recollections and views and suggests some lessons which might be drawn from them. See December  Fam Law for the full article.