Free Law Lectures at Gresham College

When Worlds Collide:
 The Family and the Law
Professor Jo Delahunty QC
Gresham Professor of Law

‘Sex, Death and Witchcraft’ – What Goes On In The Family Court Room?

Thursday, 6th October 2016, 6pm – 7pm, Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH

Think of family and what comes to mind? At best, a family united by children, love, partnership; At worst: the death of love, divorce, parents feuding over money and children. But what of the situation where the dispute is not between partners but The State and The Family? A child may be removed because professionals fear that they may suffer, no longer protected by parents but at risk from them.

Is One Individual’s Radicalism Another’s Right To Free Speech?

Thursday, 24th November 2015, 6pm – 7pm, Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH

When should intervention take place to safeguard a child? Areas where harm may arise include children at risk of being radicalised; parents promoting terrorism; or planning or being groomed to travel to Syria (with or without their parents). But removal is not a ‘risk free’ option since it may appear to be victimisation; reinforce a perception of ‘them and us’; or radicalise those who were previously uninvolved. Emerging law and practice in this area will be examined.

When Legal Worlds Collide

Thursday, 26th January 2017, 6pm – 7pm, Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH

This lecture will explore and explain the difference in outcomes between cases in Crime and Care, considering the framework of ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’ versus ‘the balance of probabilities’ and the concept of the judge’s role to determine the law and the jury the facts, as against the idea that the judge determines all. Rules on disclosure, hearsay, use of expert witnesses, and time scales in court will be examined to consider why a Not Guilty verdict in Crime may not be enough, in some cases, to resume being a parent.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Thursday, 2nd March 2017, 6pm – 7pm, Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH

The issue of Shaken Baby or Natural Cause will be examined, using a case study involving a bereaved parent, the transformation of a family home into a crime scene, with the pregnant mother facing a murder trial and her baby removed at birth. Exoneration and reunification, despite a jury acquittal, did not happen until the Family Court's decision. The lecture will explore how such a decision was arrived at and the impact it has had on our understanding of Non Accidental Injury (NAI) versus undiagnosed rickets and Vitamin D deficiency that can mimic gross abuse.

Expert Witnesses: A Zero-Sum Game?

Thursday, 12th April 2017, 6pm – 7pm, Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH

The use of experts in the family courts can make a significant difference to outcomes. The debate about the use of experts in court cases reflects the conflicted stance society takes on the emotive issue of child protection. It is a gross injustice to the child and parent for social workers, backed by ‘expert’ opinion, to wrongly remove children but it is equally unacceptable for vulnerable children to be left at home to suffer abuse.

‘Two Point One Children’: Why There Is No Typical Family In The Family Court

Thursday, 4th May 2017, 6pm-7pm, Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N 2HH

This lecture will explore vulnerable parties and children in the Family Court, especially where the common denominator is frequently one of poverty - in education, income and expectations. The range of disabilities that can be involved in court will be considered, and the way that law and practice responds to seek to protect an affected person's rights. The general principles which the court has to address if it is to deliver a fair system to the most vulnerable will be outlined.