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The International Academy of Family Lawyers is an organization of senior experienced family lawyers from around the world. There are three meetings a year; the European Chapter, the Canadian/US Chapter and the International AGM.

At this meeting, there was a very useful educational program that included a talk by Caroline Harnois from Montreal on the Hague Convention and the abduction of children and how it inter-relates with refugee claims, followed by a panel that included Judges from Hungary, England, Israel, USA and the Ukraine, on the family law regimes in their jurisdictions.

That was followed by an international panel on ethics, which included lawyers from Denmark, England, Canada, the US, France, Spain and Sweden. There was a presentation on parentage and assisted reproduction technology led by Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, QC of London, England.

These meetings are essential given the very mobile nature of society today and to talk about which jurisdiction should be used and, what is a person’s habitual residence or domicile, becomes essential. What became very clear is that in many of the civil law jurisdictions (for example, most of Europe), there is a significant difference in what evidence is allowed and the privacy issues between common law jurisdictions and civil law jurisdictions are very different.

While video tapes and audio recordings of telephone conversations may be allowable in common law jurisdictions, they will not be allowed, for example, in Spain, nor will any search in Spain be allowed of laptops or computer equipment. This all means that you need to know the law in the jurisdiction where you are appearing before you have any way of organizing your approach to Court.

Both Kay Melbye and I are members of the International Academy of Family Lawyers and continue to attend these meetings so that we may meet and have a reference in many different jurisdictions to assist us in meeting the needs of our clients.

By Trudi Brown