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Anglophone-Germanophone Judicial Conference

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Anglophone-Germanophone Judicial Conference, 14th and 15th of October, 2021

The 12th Anglophone-Germanophone Judicial Conference for International Family Law was hosted, online, by the Judicial Council in Ireland.

Over 45 family law judges and family law experts from Ireland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), attended over the 2-day conference. Many family law issues were discussed, with a huge range of speakers and expert and immediate translation.  We heard papers on developments in each of the jurisdictions (since the last conference in 2018, in Austria) which touched on capacity issues, gender identity and surrogacy.  More detailed papers were delivered on: Digital Hearings; Alternative Dispute Resolution; return orders under the Conventions on Child Abduction; the effect of Brexit on Family Law and Hague Convention proceedings.

This conference, from its inception in 1997, has a distinguished history and is a powerful means of facilitating communication and provoking fruitful discussion between judges and legal practitioners in our jurisdictions.  Germany hopes to host the next conference.

The delegates approved the following Resolutions:

1. That hearing the voice of the child and considering her or his best interests continues to be the paramount factor in family law proceedings but that, in the context of child abduction cases, the requested court is not making a welfare decision.

2.  That the best should never be the enemy of the good!  A key objective is to administer justice transparently and efficiently.  While this can best be achieved in person, digital means can help to ensure that justice is administered, and the rule of law upheld, even during a time of global crisis.

3.  That alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, especially mediation, should be promoted, insofar as possible, in every case in which children are involved or where family law proceedings are instituted.  Even in cases where agreement cannot be reached, trained personnel, including judges, mediators and lawyers, should strive to facilitate better communication between parties.  The delegates are committed to supporting mediation and dispute resolution in every practical way, including in cross-border cases.

4. That international family law instruments and the international network of judges continue to play essential roles in facilitating the effective resolution of issues to the benefit of children and families and that the 1980 and 1996 Conventions have proved to be enduring and effective mechanisms for the prevention of child abduction and will continue to be effectively and consistently enforced across our jurisdictions.

5. That international judicial family law conferences, and this Anglophone Germanophone conference in particular, are an invaluable means of sharing knowledge and experience and promoting common understanding and mutual respect.  This cooperation is especially important in the aftermath of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union.