The Leicester and Leicestershire Family Justice Board Annual Conference 2014 – A Review

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On the 10th October 2014 practitioners and family court users met for the first annual Leicester and Leicestershire Family Justice Board conference. This event followed the previous successes of the conferences held in 2013 and 2012 organised by the Leicestershire and Rutland Family Justice Board and the earlier 6 conferences organised by the Family Justice Council.


The conference, entitled Modern Families: Challenges, Choices and Opportunities, gave those attending a highly informative agenda and content addressing some of the many issues and changes facing family law in modern society.


The conference opened with a welcome address by HHJ Clifford Bellamy, Designated Family Judge for Leicester and Leicestershire and the official launch of the LLFJB website. The other conference speakers were The Honourable Mr Justice Hayden; Julie Selwyn, Professor and Director of the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies at the School for Policy Studies, Bristol University; and The Reverend Dr Jonathan Pye, Methodist Minister. Delegates also attended workshops/ seminars throughout the day with professionals specialising in the research of family law and its practice. The workshops considered various aspects of modern families, including same sex parenting, adoption, and the impact of international law and abduction out of the jurisdiction.


The Honourable Mr Justice Hayden gave the key note address at the conference. The focus of his speech addressed the reforms within the family justice system. He reflected on the largely structural reforms, emphasising that there has not been a significant shift of view within the family courts when applying the legal principles. He spoke about the Children Act 1989, viewing this statute as one of the most significant pieces of legislation of the 20th Century given it changed the practice of family law and the law generally. The current reforms give family practitioners the opportunity to reconnect to the Children Act 1989 and its principle against delay; parental responsibility; and transparency.


Thanks are given to the LLFJB Education and Training Committee for organising the event and to all of the speakers for their contribution. We look forward to the 2015 conference, for which details will be advertised on the website later this year.