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Conference puts ‘21st century family’ in spotlight

Hong Kong, 16 July 2019: Modern developments and challenges in Family Law were brought into focus at a major conference in London attended by Boase Cohen & Collins Partners Usha Casewell and Lisa Wong.

The three-day gathering, “Gender, Inclusivity and Protecting the 21st Century Family”, was held at the University of Westminster and brought together lawyers, academics, mediators and mental health professionals from countries around the world.

“This was very much an international conference with a focus on global issues such as child abduction, Hague Convention, relocation of children, and European Union policies as well as policies in development within various countries,” said Mrs Casewell, who heads BC&C’s Family Law practice with support from Ms Wong.

“It was intensively informative with plenty to think about in terms of the new developments worldwide, challenges and opportunities globally and within jurisdictions.

“We came away with an assurance that increasing attention is being given to hearing the voice of the child, especially in Hague Convention proceedings. Also, that there is an increasing emphasis on the best interests of the child being paramount. An unusual ‘take away’ was the concept of coercive orders for the left behind parent to move with the parent seeking relocation.”

The gathering began with the International Family Law Lecture 2019 which was delivered by Baroness Hale of Richmond, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. “She spoke about how the 21st century family can be defined and described, which is a far cry from the definition of family that we first learnt about at university in mid-20th century onwards,” said Mrs Casewell. “She left us with the question, what is the danger to the 21st century family that we need to protect against? Is it society’s perception or the enemy within?”

Baroness Hale is Patron of the International Centre for Family Law, Policy, and Practice, which organises the conference every three years. The International Centre was established in 2013 to bring together academic, practitioner and policy perspectives on all aspects of Family and Child Law.

Recreational highlights of the conference included dinner at the House of Lords with Baroness Hale as host and a farewell reception at Drapers' Hall, formerly the residence of Thomas Cromwell, the 16th century lawyer and chief minister to six-times-married King Henry VIII.

Gender PHOTO

Usha Casewell and Lisa Wong are pictured inside historic Draper’s Hall.