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December 2006 - January 2007


Business Forum

Surfing the seas of family law

About a thousand lawyers converged at Perth in Western Australia for the 12th National Family Law Conference from October 22 to October 26, 2006 to discuss, deliberate and analyse different issues of Family Law problems occurring globally. Baroness Hale of Richmond from the House of Lords, London, Commonwealth Attorney General Philip Ruddock MP, Justice Michael Kerby and Chief Justice Diana Bryant from Australia, besides US child expert Dr. Joan Kelly and Justice Mere Pulea from Fiji, were among the prominent legal family law personalities who took part in the thirty sessions in the three-day conference.

Chandigarh-based lawyers Anil and Ranjit Malhotra who had been invited by Lawasia to take part, presented a paper on “Family Law and Religion - The Indian Experience” at a specially convened session chaired by Andrew Davies, a leading top Australian Family Law Consultant. They were the only representatives of India in this conference and their well-attended presentation was followed by an intensive question-and-answer session for the global audience. The conference handbook has prominently published their exclusive presentation with the other papers of well-known overseas family law practitioners. Ms. Sushma Paul, Honorary Consul of India in Western Australia at Perth also attended the meet.

Describing the background of the multicultural society in the Secular Democratic Republic of India, Anil and Ranjit Malhotra in their presentation at Perth had stated that the indigenous family laws which were not contained in any Uniform Civil Code were still said to be working well in a confluence of civilizations. Different lawyers from other jurisdictions were intrigued by the compatibility of the Indian Legal system to cope up with in-house and cross-border family law issues of marriage, divorce, adoption, child removal and maintenance disputes. Seeing to the significant Indian population in Australia, UK, USA and Canada, legal experts were curious to know if the Indian family laws contained solutions to global family law disputes which arise everyday from cross-border migration. Various issues including dowry, inter-parental child removal, Uniform Civil Code, Foreign Divorce decrees, secularism and uncodified personal laws were discussed in this exclusive session which focused entirely on India.

Interesting insights were expressed on issues of same-sex marriages, alternate dispute resolution and arbitration in family law disputes, domestic violence, parenting and child custody matters, as well as looking at matrimonial property dispute resolution. The sessions carried interesting titles. Some of them were How many parties to spoil a marriage, Family lawyers have no future, Footballers’ wives and trophy husbands, Invisible Parties - Listening to Children and Family law changes: A guide for the confused. The international insights provided global views and different perceptions of highly relevant continuing professional developments.

Seeing to the wide variety of the issues discussed amongst the panoramic settings of the tip of Western Australia in a beautiful climatic background, the majestic Burswood International Resort provided an ideal setting for this global event which included an idyllic impact funding conference ball by a night under the stars at the famous Royal Perth Yacht Club. It was indeed a thought provoking conference which laid the foundation for the 13th National Family Law Conference to be held in Adelaide in Australia in 2008 which will be titled Families Broken, Blended and Mended.

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