Expatriate Law International Family Conference 2018 Featured in Hague Conference on Private International Law – Judge’s Newsletter

It was wonderful to see a write up of our firm’s conference in Dubai within the Judge’s newsletter produced by the Hague Conference of Private International Law, Summer 2018. A snippet of the article can be found below, but for the full review, please click here.

Expatriate Law International Family Law Conference

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

On 3rd and 4th May 2018, Expatriate Law were delighted to welcome 70 delegates from around the world to Dubai for an International Family Law Conference. Lawyers attended from 18 different jurisdictions including England, Australia, South Africa, the US, Oman, Bahrain and India. The conference attracted family lawyers who regularly advise expatriate clients in the Middle East.

Over the course of two days, speakers and delegates discussed a range of topical family law issues, with a particular focus on issues relating to the UAE. One of the key themes of this conference was the notable absence of the UAE from the signatories to the 1980 Hague Convention 1980 and the impact which this has on cases involving the region, especially considering the vast numbers of expatriates residing there.

The conference began with a talk by the English barrister and Sharia law expert, Ian Edge (3 Paper Buildings and SOAS). Ian discussed the practical implication of Sharia law and how the main family laws in the UAE, the Personal Status Law 28 of 2005, has been derived from it. He considered the framework that is applied to domestic cases in the UAE and highlighted the need for appropriate expert advice at an early stage in matters with a cross-border component.

Continuing the theme of domestic UAE principles, Stephanie Allerton (Expatriate Law) and Hassan Elhais (Al Rowaad Advocates, UAE) addressed the delegates on the methods which can be employed to enforce foreign orders in the UAE Courts.

Clare Renton (29 Bedford Row) and Alexandra Tribe (Expatriate Law) then spoke on the relocation of children both to and from the Middle East, considering the difficulties which arise in these cases as a result of the UAE’s non-membership of the 1980 Hague Convention. In particular, Alexandra Tribe addressed the safeguards that could be put in place through the Family Guidance Committee of the UAE courts, or the UAE courts themselves, to ensure the return of children following contact with a parent in the UAE.

Day 1 culminated with a series of talks from regional speakers on the family laws in their own jurisdictions, including:

Mert Yalcin (Turkey);
Elham Hassan (Bahrain);
Djoulene Boukedroune (Algeria);
Amna Abbas (Pakistan); and
Sumaiya al Balushi (Oman)

These speakers also conducted a panel discussion, explaining how their country would respond to a scenario involving both the international relocation of children and the financial remedies aspect of an expatriate divorce.  It was helpful for delegates to compare and contrast the applicable laws from the region.

Day 2 commenced with a lively discussion conducted by:

Will Tyler QC (England);
Patricia Apy (USA);
Max Meyer (Australia);
Beverley Clark (South Africa);
Malavika Rajkotia (India);
Byron James (Expatriate Law, England); and
Lucia Clark (Scotland).

Though the focus of this discussion was issues which have arisen in these practitioner’s cases involving the Middle East, it also served as a helpful reminder of the differences between the English and Scottish jurisdictions within the UK and prompted an animated debate on the question of whether India should accede to the 1980 Hague Convention. A key theme of this discussion was domestic violence and the strategies which are currently employed in the UAE to address these issues. It culminated in a discussion of a case involving an abduction from the UAE, and coincidentally both advocates and the Judge were attending as speakers at the conference (Will Tyler QC, Clare Renton and Sir Peter Singer). The panel also discussed a case in which Facebook had been used to locate a parent who had abducted a child whose location was not known. The English High Court granted a Norwich Pharmacal order, providing the IP addresses used to access a party’s Facebook account, which were then used to pinpoint the missing parent’s geographical location.