Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244

Next steps for family law in England and Wales - reforming care proceedings, protecting vulnerable users and modernising court procedures

February 2020

This conference examines the next steps for family justice in England and Wales, including:

  • Court modernisation;
  • Protecting vulnerable users;
  • Developing care proceedings; and
  • The use of data and evidence to improve outcomes.

The seminar is timed to take place as the Government reintroduces the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, aiming to revolutionise divorce proceedings by eliminating the ‘blame game’ and enabling one spouse or the couple to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

The seminar will consider responses to a number of key consultations on the family court structures, including:

  • MoJ’s final report on Assessing risk of harm to children and parents in private law children cases - focusing on safeguarding court users in private cases and identification of risk;
  • The continuing HMCTS court reform programme relating to divorce, adoption, public, and private law looking at improving information sharing between organisations, digitising evidence and developing further case management systems; and
  • Examination of options for reform more widely in family justice being conducted by working groups led by Justice Keehan and Justice Cobb on public and private law respectively, including proposed changes to non-court dispute resolution, the current child arrangements programme, and special guardianship orders.


There will be keynote contributions from:

  • Sir James Munby, Chair, Nuffield Family Justice Observatory and former President, Family Justice Division, High Court of England and Wales - discussing his work on Special Guardianship Orders as well as his time as President of the Family Division;
  • Neal Barcoe, Deputy Director, Family Justice Policy Division, Ministry of Justice - on the MoJ’s report on the risk of harm in private law cases, and the Government’s plans for policy more widely in Family Justice;
  • Emma Petty, Service Manager, Family Public Law and Adoption Reform Project and Isabel Syred, Service Manager, Divorce and Financial Remedy, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service - who will be giving an update on the Service’s current court reform programme and the next stages of implementation;
  • Dr Mike Shaw, Consultant, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Tavistock Clinic London, Family Drug and Alcohol Court National Unit - on the FDAC’s work and the lessons that can be learned more widely from the problem-solving courts; and
  • Fiona Beazer, Regional Delivery Manager, Witness Service, Citizens Advice and Alison Lamb, Chief Executive, RCJ Advice - on ensuring effective legal advice and supporting victims.

Further confirmed speakers include: Lucy Hadley, Women’s Aid; Jessica Asato, SafeLives; Mor Dioum, Victoria Climbié Foundation; Ursula Lindenberg, Voices; Alison Moore, 1GC Family Law and FLBA Vulnerable Witness Working Group; Jane Robey, National Family Mediation; Sarah Phillimore, St John’s Chambers; and Natasha Watson, Brighton & Hove City Council.

Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Immigration and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede have kindly agreed to chair this seminar.

The agenda

  • Improving data and research evidence in family justice;
  • Problem-solving courts - addressing substance misuse, mental health problems and domestic abuse;
  • The impact of changes to private family law proceedings - protecting vulnerable users and meeting demand and expanding mediation;
  • Supporting victims and ensuring effective legal advice for litigants;
  • Reforming care proceedings in England and Wales - Special Guardianship Orders, improving standards nationwide and innovative approaches to care;
  • Implementing court modernisation; and
  • Next steps for policy.

Engagement with policy officials at this conference

Westminster Legal Policy Forum conferences typically attract strong interest from policymakers. This seminar will be an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with officials who have reserved places representing: MoJ; Law Commission of England & Wales; Department for Education; FCO and the Welsh Government.

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Legal Policy Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates