AstenJ legal Conferences
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AstenJ’s Family Law conference was held at BPP University in Holborn on 28 April 2018 and it carried a hefty 6 CPD points

The event was an all-day one and included a wonderful Asian style hot buffet lunch. The day was opened by the chair of the conference, Constance Whippman (Joint Head of Chambers, 33 Bedford Row). She used the opportunity to remind the lawyers present at the event about their continued and enhanced duties under the GDPR, especially in a family law context.

Deborah Seitler (Barrister, 33 Bedford Row) was the first speaker and focused her lesson on Private Children Law. This talk was broken down into a number of relevant subjects including Parent Alienation and contact disputes and instances in which children may be brought to Court and what happens when a Judge meets a child. Deborah’s lesson was interesting as she talked about her personal experiences with clients (without divulging any personal information) and the impact disputes between parents can have on children. Her talk was full of useful advice and tips as to how you can protect the interests of children as well as parents in instances where one parent is attempting to alienate their child from the other.

The next speaker was Mr Richard Clough (Head of Family Team at 33 Bedford Row). He focused his talk on the demographics of future family practice. He also provided an outline on the jurisdiction of family Courts and went onto give a guidance on protecting vulnerable adults. He did this by going through the Mental Capacity Act and analysing the various aspects of it that practitioners need to pay attention to in this context. He also presented the challenges faced by Court when dealing with an adult who lacks mental capacity – this insight gave the audience a thorough understanding of how to deal with such cases. A highly practical and useful talk with some great advice for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

The next speaker, Onyoja Momoh (Barrister – 5 Pump Court), the only speaker not from 33 Bedford Row, focused on Domestic and Family violence in the context of the 1980 Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. She not only focused on child abduction but also instances of adult abduction. Being a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen, she was able to discuss some of her research on child abduction and the statistics behind it. Ms Momoh is clearly an expert in this field and delivered a clear and precise talk to the audience.

After a hearty hot buffet lunch, we heard from Mr Roman Poplawski (Barrister, 33 Bedford Row). Roman has deep knowledge of both English and Polish legal systems. He spoke of his experiences in practising law in Pakistan – this was an intriguing account especially from someone who had never even travelled to Asia before – the hurdles he had to cross simply to
get a visa to travel to Pakistan were captivating, to say the least. His account of his experiences with the administrative and judicial processes in Pakistan would have been the highlight of the day for the audience.

Next up was Mr Baldip Singh Aulak (Barrister, 33 Bedford Row) who is a specialist in both Immigration and Family law. Baldip covered a number of areas including relocation of families, travel out of jurisdiction, permanent removal of children and internal relocation of children and where they would reside. Baldip took us through a number of key cases concerning the relocation of children and highlighted important features in those cases which may prove useful to practitioners.

Seema Kansal, who was initially scheduled to close the talks, went next. Her talk focused on trusts and third party rights and the relevant procedural considerations. For any practitioner, that deals with matrimonial disputes that involve the dividing of assets this talk would have proved highly useful. She went through the importance of trust principles in cases where one party to a dispute does not have legal title to a property – a highly common problem in today’s matrimonial cases.

The last of the talks came from Constance Whippman (Joint Head of Chambers, 33 Bedford Row), who opened the day’s events. Her talk focused primarily on matrimonial finances and on updates in financial provisions. The notes provided to the audience that accompanied her talk were highly informative. She provided practical steps and practices to be adopted by practitioners especially when it came to dealing with matrimonial finances. We owe a massive thank you to Constance for her efforts throughout the day.

The main themes that came across from the talks are that a practitioner should never give up no matter how bleak the prospects of success may seem and that there is no substitute for a well-prepared case with ample evidence to back up statements.

The day finished off with a question session which was a great opportunity for practitioners to get expert advice on their ongoing family matters.

AstenJ certainly put together a worthwhile seminar which would stick in the minds of all those who were present.