On 9th March we welcomed Alison Shalaby, Sharon Cooke and Anika Chaudary to Zenith Chambers and to Leeds for the first meeting of our North Eastern Group Forum on Child Abduction and Removal from Jurisdiction. We were delighted that the event was well attended by local solicitors who were keen to discuss the challenges of preventing and responding to international child abduction, as well as sampleing a few of Sesame's cakes!
The key objectives of Reunite in working with local practitioners are to:
- increase levels of regional expertise in this field;
- form links with practitioners so that concerned parents can access the wealth of local expertise in preference to a London-centric approach;
- shift the focus in international family matters from responding to abduction cases to preventing cases through increasing awareness of parents, practitioners and the judiciary about prevention measures.
We were given an enormously helpful insight into the work of Reunite by Sharon, the advice Line Manager, and Alison, who spoke about about the use mediation where an abduction has taken place, and had an opportunity to look at the Reunite Prevention Pack which even includes a kit for taking fingerprints.
The local practitioners who attended discussed particularly challenging cases which they had experienced, the effectiveness (or otherwise) of international protocols, and were able to exchange information about resources such as sympathetic foreign lawyers and helpful internet sites.
The particular areas in which local practitioners identified a need for training are:
- Intermediate level updates about developments in the law in child abduction cases.
- Tools for preventing child abduction in private law children cases involving other jurisdictions.
- The interrelationship between the different types of orders which can be usede to prevent or respond to child abduction, Wardship, Children Act, Brussells IIR and, Family Law Act and Child Abduction and Custody Act.
All those who attended agreed that face to face discussions was a better way of continuing this collaboration than via an internet group, and so we are busy planning the next Forum Discussion group for July 2011.
Reunite and the FLBA NEC are also busy planning a special training seminar on October 2011 focussed on Private Law children cases and cross border issues, so watch this space for more news.