On 16 May 2018, Catherine Bearder, MEP for South East England, and the Brussels office of the Law Society brought together leading experts in the field of Family Law to give a talk at European Parliament on the challenges Brexit poses to the practice area.
The discussion begun with Professor David Hodson, co-founder of The International Family Law Group, who described how the UK is home to an incredibly broad reach of international families. He explained that Brexit may result in an unsatisfactory situation in which there might be one set of laws for EU family members and another (potentially less favourable) set for third country family members.
Tim Scott QC raised the additional concern over whether adequate arrangements in relation to family law would be made by the end of the current transition period. He stressed the importance of maintaining the status quo until any tangible agreement has been worked out between the UK and the EU. Further, in the absence of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, he argued in favour of the Court of Justice of the EU having jurisdiction over the UK possibly until 2025, to allow a suitable framework to be drawn up.
Daniel Eames, of Clarke Willmott Solicitors, continued the discussion by warning against over-reliance on certain Hague Conventions which would raise the potential for parallel proceedings and which do not apply to all EU Member States.
The informative discussion drew to a close with Rachael Kelsey of SKO Family Law Specialists, who stressed a distinction should be made between the views of Scotland and the rest of the UK, in relation to certain legal doctrines such as lis pendens. Rachael explained how EU Regulations are used also between jurisdictions within the UK and used practical examples to illustrate how the loss of EU legislation would make more expensive, more complex and lengthy any cross-border family proceedings.