Since 2005, the Office has functioned as a centre of expertise and helpdesk for general enquiries in the field of international family law for the judiciary and practitioners in this jurisdiction and overseas. Its main role is to support and facilitate cross border judicial collaboration and direct judicial communication and to enhance the expertise necessary for handling the large numbers of cases relating to aspects of private international law.
The need for all involved in family law to integrate a trans-national mindset into their approach to resolving cases is self evident, especially given globalisation, increasing movement of persons across borders, and the ever rising number of family units which are truly international.
The 2012 year serves to emphasise this. From the Office’s perspective, it has been busy. The year has seen, and the Office has played a role in, Part II of the Hague Conference on Private International Law’s Sixth Special Commission into the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. It has brought, in November 2012, the entry into force in the UK of the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention. Furthermore, major conferences such as the 9th bi-annual Anglophone-Germanophone Standing Judicial Conference on International Family Law (Thun, Switzerland) and the 3rd Commonwealth/Common Law Standing Conference for International Family Judges (Hong Kong SAR, China) have continued to be key fora for addressing the issues raised by family disputes with an international dimension.
Since the Office’s establishment, practitioners, judges, litigants, charities, government officials and others, from the UK and abroad, have requested its assistance year on year. 2011 saw a 96% increase in requests on 2010. 2012 continues the trend. It has seen a 40.5% rise in requests made, the numbers exceeding what was estimated in the 2011 Annual Report.