Lucy Birch reports from her weekend in Jersey at the International Family Law Conference
I was fortunate enough to attend the Jersey International Family Law Conference 2022 for the first time this year. The conference programme was jam-packed with speakers on a mixture of family law topics, both finances and children, with a focus on coercive and controlling behaviour within family law. After a very short flight and a delicious lunch at the Oyster Box with a view of the beautiful St Brelade beach, the conference kicked off on the Friday afternoon with the keynote speech by Lady Hale. She discussed the history of coercive and controlling behaviour within family relationships, including her experience of dealing with such issues during her career. She discussed the challenges and shortcomings in how such cases are dealt with in criminal proceedings and the interplay with family law, which was really interesting.
The speakers included many KCs, a forensic accountant, and a Circuit Judge. In particular, I really enjoyed Laura Briggs KC’s talk on coercive and controlling behaviour in children cases. It is such a topical subject which comes up in so many cases. Her presentation (and references to Love Island!) was very thought-provoking. She highlighted the court’s shortcomings in dealing with the issue, including the use of Scott schedules, as highlighted in the case of Re H-N. The take-home message from her presentation was that the relevance of the factual dispute on the outcome of the case is key when the court is deciding whether to make a CAO and/or the terms of such. The talk focussed my mind on how to run a case with such issues from the start.
I also really enjoyed the presentation by Faye Hall, a forensic accountant. She took us through a case study and certainly widened my view of exactly what a forensic accountant is able to assist with and importantly, what information we can gather so they can do their job most effectively. She also discussed the benefit of a shadow expert in certain circumstances which is something I had not considered before.
Following the presentations, we enjoyed a nice stroll along the beach and then resumed at the L’Horizon Hotel for a champagne reception in the evening. This was followed by a three-course dinner and a raffle (one of the prizes was a copy of Lady Hale’s book – Spiderwoman) and a caricaturist!
The second day started early with a RIB boat trip around the beautiful north and east coast of Jersey followed by lunch at Corbiere Phare restaurant. We were lucky enough to be seated opposite Lady Hale at lunch and we chatted away with her. She was very warm, talking about her life in Yorkshire and about her grandchildren. She asked many questions about us and was very interested to hear about our firm (particularly with our Yorkshire roots!) She was more than happy to have photographs taken although she admitted she was not a fan of a selfie!
Overall, the trip was a great chance to network with family lawyers from all over the country in a beautiful setting, and meeting Lady Hale was certainly a highlight!