Post on the 2017 Child Abduction Conference (10 February)

As previously posted here, I attended the 1 King’s Bench Walk International Child Abduction Conference in London on 10 February as I did in 2015 and 2016.  As in previous years, it was an all-day conference and I shall not attempt to summarise everything.

For me, the most notable points were these:

  • Following “Brexit” it is not clear what will become of the “Brussels II” Regulation which regulates family law issues between EU states, including questions of international parental child abduction (see also Blogroll to the right for a link to the entire text). It may well be replicated in domestic law but, as I said, it is not yet clear whether and how this will occur.
  • Mr Justice MacDonald, a High Court judge, gave an address in regard to case management issues in the context of abduction cases.
  • The annual update given by the charity Reunite International revealed that their statistics show that there have been 10% increases in parental abductions in “most years”; whilst worrying, that is not altogether surprising given the increased prevalence of international marriages. They have also set up successful bi-monthly meetings for left behind parents in the UK and now publish their prevention guides, available on the website, in languages other than English.  The speaker also drew attention to a shocking incident whereby the Metropolitan Police refused to take action in regard to a removal of a child where that removal was reported before it happened.  That is now the subject of a civil claim but shows that ignorance as regards the issue of parental child abduction extends to arms of the state whose role should be to help prevent abductions taking place at all, where there is advance knowledge that an abduction may take place.  Reunite is also undertaking a great many more mediations now than before, an encouraging sign as the organisation has a good track record in that regard.
  • There was also a separate talk dedicated to mediation and arbitration. On this the notable development over the last year has been the introduction of the Child Arbitration Scheme in July 2016.

This post is dedicated to my son who turns 8 ¼ today.

Advertisements

London event: Taking Flight – Domestic Violence and Child Abduction

An international child abduction lecture is taking place next month at the London College where I undertook my LLM degree; the speaker is Baroness Hale of Richmond.  Lady Hale, who I have (successfully) conducted Supreme Court litigation before (albeit not in this context), is a former family law academic (Professor at the University of Manchester, before joining the Law Commission prior to her appointment to the High Court) who now sits as the Deputy President of the UK’s Supreme Court.  With the current President, Lord Neuberger, due to retire later this year, Lady Hale is widely tipped to replace him. I disagree with much of what she has written – more so as an academic than a judge – but, despite this, her views on the many issues thrown into play in this day and age, and as summarised below, by international parental child abduction will be well worth listening to.

Details and booking link below:

UCL Faculty of Laws logo.jpg

Taking Flight – Domestic Violence and Child Abduction

Thursday 16 March 2017, 18:00 – 19:00

Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Speaker: The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE (The Supreme Court)
Chair: Lady Justice Black

(Head of International Family Justice)
Admission: Free
Accreditation: This event is accredited with 1 CPD hour with the SRA and BSB
Series: Current Legal Problems 2016-17

About the lecture:

Increasing concerns that victims of domestic violence, who flee the country with their children, are effectively being forced, under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to return to face their abusers, led to calls for a Protocol to the Convention which would make special provision for such cases. Instead, however, the Hague Conference on Private International Law has established a Working Group with the aim of developing a Guide to Good Practice in relation to article 13(1)(b) of the Convention. This provides an exception to the automatic return of children to their country of habitual residence required by article 12, where there is a grave risk that their return would expose them to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place them in an intolerable situation.

The Working Group has not found this an easy task. It raises so many difficult questions of principle. Should concern for the victims of domestic violence ever override the concern for the welfare of children which the Convention aims to protect? When is a risk of harm to a parent also a risk of harm to a child? How is a court in the receiving country to resolve disputes about who did what to whom? How effective are protective measures in the home country? What can the receiving country do both to assist the home country and to provide protection in the meantime? How does the interface with the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children work? Is Europe a special case? And what about the human rights of the children and both of their parents? Perhaps above all, is there a risk that, in its anxiety to preserve the integrity of the 1980 Convention, the Working Group will lose sight of the reasons why it was set up?

About the speaker:

Brenda Hale is the most senior woman judge in the United Kingdom. She became a High Court Judge in 1994, after a varied career teaching law at the University of Manchester and reforming the law as a member of the Law Commission. She was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 1999 and to the House of Lords in 2004. In 2009, the ‘Law Lords’ became the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, where she has been Deputy President since 2013. Her principal interests are in family, social welfare and equality law.

About Current Legal Problems:

The Current Legal Problems annual lecture series was established over sixty years ago. The lectures are public, delivered on a weekly basis and chaired by members of the judiciary.

The Current Legal Problems (CLP) annual volume is published on behalf of UCL Laws by Oxford University Press, and features scholarly articles that offer a critical analysis of important current legal issues.

It covers all areas of legal sponsorship and features a wide range of methodological approaches to law. With its emphasis on contemporary developments, CLP is a major point of reference for legal scholarship.

Find out more about CLP on the Oxford University Press website

To book:  “Taking Flight – Domestic Violence and Child Abduction”, UCL Faculty of Laws Events Page

New bill seeks to promote parent-child interaction following divorce

The Japan Times

New bill seeks to promote parent-child interaction following divorce

JIJI, KYODO

A cross-party group of lawmakers has drawn up a bill to promote parent-child interactions after divorces and marital separations, encouraging parents to maintain ties with their children mainly via visitations.

According to the bill, parents who are getting divorced would be required to put into writing the frequency of the visitations and how to share the child-rearing costs.

The lawmakers, including members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the main opposition Democratic Party, aim to submit the bill to the Diet on June 18.

Among the bill’s basic principles are one that says parents must try to maintain sustainable relationships with their children after divorce. They also call for efforts to secure opportunities for the children to express their will and to ensure that their growth and personality development will not be impeded.

In addition to urging parents to maintain favorable relationships with their children through periodic visitations and other exchanges in a stable manner, the bill calls on the state to carry out related educational activities and provide the necessary support. It also urges local governments to make similar efforts.

On the other hand, the bill underscores the need for special consideration in cases of child abuse and domestic violence, including by banning visitations and exchanges.

It also asks the state to consider introducing a joint parental custody system under which the custody of a child is awarded to both parents after divorce.

The Legislative Council, which advises the justice minister, is discussing a potential amendment to the civil execution law to clarify rules for the handover of a child between divorced parents.

In Japan, where custody of a child must be decided between a father and a mother when they are divorced, conflicts often emerge over the issue of visitations, especially when parents are unable to communicate calmly, raising the need for the swift involvement of a third party.

Experts have called for setting up places to offer consultation services that can be easily accessed by parents, as there is a limit to what they can do by themselves to seek settlements.

Masayuki Tanamura, a professor at Waseda University, said many Western countries have support systems that enable parents to have consultations over how to raise their children after they get divorced.

“In Japan, the level of support before divorce is inefficient, leading to escalation of conflicts between husband and wife and resulting in lawsuits,” Tanamura said.

“There should be many cases that can be resolved beforehand, so the state and local governments need to enhance their support.”

According to government’s population survey, the number of divorces in Japan reached 226,215 in 2015, up from 222,107 cases the previous year, indicating that divorces are no longer uncommon in the country.

In line with the increase in divorces, the number of mediation and judgments at family courts has been on the rise over conflicts between a parent seeking access to his or her child and another parent rejecting the demand.

Source:  “New bill seeks to promote parent-child interaction following divorce”, The Japan Times, 6 February 2017 

Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee

BBC

Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee: Gun salutes mark 65 years on the throne

  • 6 February 2017

A 41-gun salute has been fired in London’s Green Park to mark the Queen’s 65 years on the throne.

Gun salutes also took place in Cardiff, Edinburgh and York.

The Queen has become the first British monarch to reach a sapphire jubilee, after becoming the UK’s longest-reigning monarch in 2015, aged 89.

A portrait of the Queen by British photographer David Bailey has been reissued for the anniversary.

In the photo, the Queen wears sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding gift in 1947.

The portrait was among a series taken by Bailey in 2014, with one released for the Queen’s 88th birthday that year.

Portrait of the Queen by David BaileyImage copyrightDAVID BAILEY© 2017
Image captionThe Queen has become the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee

In the portrait, the Queen, who is now 90, wears a necklace made of 16 large, oblong sapphires surrounded by diamonds, with a matching pair of drop earrings.

Over the years, she has added to the gifts from her father with a tiara and a bracelet to complement the original jewellery.

The world’s longest-reigning monarchs

It is tradition for the Queen to spend the Accession Day – as the anniversary of the day she became monarch is officially known – in private at her Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, and return to Buckingham Palace a few days later.


Other monarchs to pass the sapphire milestone:

  • King Sobhuza II of Swaziland reigned for 82 years – the longest verifiable reign of any monarch in recorded history. He led Swaziland through independence until his death in 1982.
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand had ruled for 70 years when he died last October. He began his reign aged just 18 years old.
  • Franz Joseph I was Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia for 67 years until his death in 1916. His nephew was Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was assassinated in 1914.
  • King Louis XIV of France reigned for 72 years before his death in 1715. He became king, aged four, after his father’s death.

Prime Minister Theresa May offered her congratulations, hailing the Queen as “truly an inspiration to all of us”.

The prime minister said: “I know the nation will join with me today in celebrating and giving thanks for the lifetime of service Her Majesty the Queen has given to our country and to the Commonwealth.”

Mrs May said it was “a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation” that the Queen had made clear she did not want official celebrations to mark the historic milestone.


Another first for Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen after her coronationImage copyrightPA
Image captionThe monarch, pictured in 1953, leaving Westminster Abbey after the Coronation

By Peter Hunt, BBC diplomatic and royal correspondent

Longevity for a hereditary head of state has brought many milestones.

She is Britain’s longest reigning monarch, having overtaken her great great grandmother, Victoria, in 2015.

Today, after 23,742 days on the throne, it’s the start of the first sapphire jubilee in British history.

For the Queen, it’s a moment for contemplation rather than celebration – as it is also the anniversary of her father’s death.

In the coming months and years, she will, inevitably, do less and other royals will take on more – most notably Prince William, once he finishes his job as an air ambulance pilot in the summer.

The 90-year-old working monarch has another significant moment on the horizon.

In November, she and Prince Philip will mark 70 years of marriage.

Read more from Peter Hunt here


In London, royal gun salutes commemorated the occasion across the capital.

A 41-gun salute was fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at midday and a 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 13:00 GMT.

Larger-scale jubilee celebrations are expected to be reserved for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022, when the monarch will mark 70 years.

Members of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 21-gun salute at Edinburgh CastleImage copyrightPA
Image captionMembers of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 21-gun salute at Edinburgh Castle
Members of C Troop 211 Battery fire a 21-gun salute in the grounds of Cardiff CastleImage copyrightPA
Image captionA 21-gun salute was fired in the grounds of Cardiff Castle
Members of the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, fire a 21-gun salute in York's Museum GardensImage copyrightPA
Image captionIn York, a 21-gun salute was fired in Museum Gardens
Source:  “Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee:  Gun salutes mark 65 years on the throne”, BBC News, 6 February 2017 

Further Reading:  “Queen Elizabeth II marks record 65 years on throne”, The Japan Times, 27 February 2017 (added 28 February 2017)