CANCELLED Professorial Lecture Series: Professor Helen Stalford

This event has now passed.

Date: 20 March 2019
Venue: Bristol Business School (X Block), Frenchay Campus
Venue Location:
Time: 18:00-20:15

Join us at Bristol Law School for an evening Professorial Lecture with Professor Helen Stalford (University of Liverpool) on the topic “This is a case about you and your future”: Towards Judgments for Children.


  • 18:00-18:30: Registration
  • 18:30-18:35: Welcome
  • 18:35-19:20: Professorial Lecture
  • 19:20-19:30: Q&A
  • 19:30-20:15: Networking over refreshments


“This is a case about you and your future”: Towards Judgments for Children

These are the opening lines of Peter Jackson's celebrated decision in the English private family law case of Re A: Letter to a Young Person [2017] EWFC 48. There is nothing particularly remarkable about the decision in substance – it is a routine private family law case concerning the wishes and feelings of a competent 14-year-old boy – but the presentation of the judgment (in the form of a letter to the child) has been applauded by the legal community and children's rights advocates alike as a model of how to achieve 'child friendly justice'.

The 'letter to Sam' is one of a handful of 'child friendly' judgments to have emerged in recent years that attempt to adopt a child-centred approach to the decision-making stage of the legal process. But such examples, which remain few and far between, risk reinforcing a relatively superficial, perhaps even sentimentalised engagement with the notion of child friendly justice, and confine more creative attempts at judgment-writing to a niche set of cases, under narrowly prescribed conditions.

This presentation (based on an article in progress) invites a more profound examination of why the form and presentation of judicial decisions themselves act as an important cog in the access to justice machinery. Drawing on wider notions of justice, relational and developmental theory, it considers in more depth not just the potential but the duty of judges – through the art and craft of judgment writing – to acknowledge and engage children (and, indeed, adults) as legal citizens.

Speaker biography

Helen Stalford is Professor of Law and Founding Director of the European Children's Rights Unit, University of Liverpool. Her research expertise lies in children's rights in the context of the European Union and she currently leads the UK wide Brexit and Children coalition, working alongside civil society organisations and other children's rights experts to inform government and parliament on the implications of Brexit for children. Helen has also conducted research on children's experience of the legal process, and has a particular interest in bringing children's rights methods and principles to bear on legal casework and decision-making involving children. She has conducted EU-funded research to develop training for lawyers, and has developed a model for a children's rights-based approach to judging as part of an AHRC-funded project Rewriting Children's Rights Judgments: From Academic Vision to New Practice (published by Hart, 2017).

How to attend

This lecture is free to attend, but pre-registration is required. Refreshments will be provided.

Cost: Free
Contact: Josie Englishby
Telephone: +44(0)117 3286 453

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