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06 OCT 2008

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Hughes - The Children Act 1989: A Different Sort of Litigation?

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Hughes.

This article is based on the Hershman-Levy Memorial Lecture, Birmingham, June 2008
This annual lecture is designed as an entirely fitting honour to the memory of two experts in Children Act 1989 litigation. Allan Levy and David Hershman, both of whom ought still to be dominating their field, were above all specialist professionals in the legal rules for resolving issues of child welfare. That is, I hope, a single phrase summary of what Children Act work is about - legal rules for resolving issues of child welfare. I want to come back to that in just a moment. Also, fittingly, these talks have until now been graced by similar specialists in the field - unrivalled specialists one might say: Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss, then President of the Family Division, Wall LJ and, last year, Wilson LJ. Time, it seems, for a change. I claim no place in that line of succession. I did spend 6 years in the Family Division. It was fascinating, intensely rewarding for much of the time and I have missed it ever since. But it was not what I had mostly done before arrival nor is it what I have mostly done since.

That, as it turned out, seems to have been the idea, not mine of course, behind an arrival in the Family Division which was as unexpected to me as it was to the Family Bar. 'It will be different' they told me: 'It is a different kind of litigation'. I spent 6 years musing on this and have often returned to the proposition since. Was it? And is it? And if it is, how different? That is what I thought I might think about with you for a short while this evening.

For the full article, see October [2008] Family Law journal.

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