Dartington Interdisciplinary

The FJC held it’s biennial conference to discuss key issues in the family justice system.

The complete papers for the events are published by Jordans, please visit their website to purchase a copy (external link) of the latest Conference papers.


The Dartington Conferences began in 1995 with the “Rooted Sorrows” conference which brought together specialists from the world of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and family justice. The success of that conference led to the formation of the President’s Interdisciplinary Committee which then organised further conferences in 1997, 2001 and 2003. Following the formation of the Family Justice Council in 2004, the conference in 2005 was organised by that body.

The conference has taken place over three days in Autumn every other year and is attended by judges, directors of social services, mental health professionals, academics, guardians ad litem, panel managers, lawyers and other professionals.

Each conference has a particular theme and papers are presented by a wide range of individuals. There are discussions both in the main conference and in smaller discussion groups. The papers and summaries of the discussions are published by Jordans which ensures that they reach a wider audience.

It is anticipated that future conferences will be one day interdisciplinary conferences at various locations around the country.

Previous Conferences

The first conference in 1995 produced the volume “Rooted sorrows” and considered the impact of psychoanalytical theory and practice on the work of all disciplines within the Family Justice System.

In 1997 “Divided Duties” was the conference volume, subtitled “Care Planning for children within the Family Justice System” and contained contributions from, among many others the then Mr. Justice Wall, Dr. Claire Sturge, Jenny Kenrick and Professor Olive Stephenson.

1n 1999 “No Fault or Flaw, the Future of the Family Law Act 1996″ was the conference publication.

2001 “Delight and Dole – The Children Act 10 years on” focussed on the Act and the challenges remaining and included papers on “Delay and the Challenges of the Children Act”, “Children’s Rights and the Impact of Two International Conventions, The UNCRC and the ECHR”, “When young people refuse treatment: balancing autonomy and protection”, “Expert Evidence 10 years after the Children Act 1989: Where are we?” and “Children, Safety and Parental Contact in Private Law Proceedings”.

2003 “Hearing the Children” included papers on Concepts of Child Attachment, Making Sense of what Children say, Listening to and Safeguarding Children from mixed heritage backgrounds, The Mental Health needs of Refugee Children and their Families and The Voice of the Child: Children’s Rights are Human Rights.

2005 “Durable Solutions” included sessions on Court Experiences and Development outcomes, Models for Achieving Successful agreed and ordered outcomes in Private Law cases, including presentations from Liz Trinder, Nicholas Crichton and Dr. Christopher Clulow.

2007: “Integrating Diversity” addressed the issue of Diversity in the family justice system.

2009: “Mental Health in the Family Justice System” examined the impact of mental health issues on the practice of family law by lawyers and the challenges they pose for judges, social workers and medical experts who give evidence in the family courts.

2011: “The Family Justice Review: Evaluation and Implementation” examined how the proposals contained in the Family Justice Review could be made to work in practice.