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Law experts to set up Network on family law

18 March 2010

For immediate release

Law experts from Cardiff University are collaborating with three other universities in Wales and the South West to form a network which will form the authoritative voice on family law and policy.

Family policy is constantly under the spotlight in the UK. Issues concerning marriage and relationship breakdown are likely to be hot topics in the forthcoming General Election.

The new Network on Family, Regulation and Society will produce high quality research and pool expertise in areas such as child protection, family justice issues, cohabitation and the effects of separation and divorce on children. It aims to make an impact on policy and practice of family law by bringing robust research evidence to bear on proposals for reform of policy or practice.

Professor Gillian Douglas, Head of Cardiff Law School and a member of the network, said, "The area of family law and policy is a highly emotive one that affects everyone. The Network will provide high quality research to help inform public debate and assist policy-makers to make decisions based on the best evidence."

The Network is being led by the University of Exeter in collaboration with the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Cardiff. This cross partnership will provide the opportunity to concentrate previously dispersed expertise, harness a range of national and international research links and deepen existing links between its members. Cardiff Law School members are Professor Gillian Douglas, Professor Nigel Lowe, Dr Leanne Smith and Julie Doughty.

It will also include contributions from three leading third sector organisations that specialise in this area: One Plus One, Resolution and the Family Law Bar Association. These will contribute ideas to the setting of future research agendas.

The Network will seek to be a highly visible unit that can provide a rapid response to announcements made in parliament as well as having the capacity to respond to media enquires and current media issues. Its initial ‘agenda setting workshop’ held at the Nuffield Foundation this week was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Nuffield Foundation and the Family Law Bar Association.

1. Further information
Georgina Thomson
Public Relations Officer
Cardiff Law School
Phone: +44(0)29 20875465

2. Cardiff Law School is known internationally for its work across a wide range of research fields and for translating its research into information for policy-makers and practitioners. The most recent independent assessment of the quality of research in British universities ranked the School joint 7th in the UK. The School offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and is home to the Centre for Professional Legal Studies, the leading provider of legal training in Wales. The Centre is one of only a handful of providers validated by the professional bodies (the Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority) to offer both the main vocational training courses for solicitors and barristers. Cardiff’s Legal Practice Course has consistently achieved the Solicitors Regulation Authority (formerly the Law Society) highest grade.

The library, one of the largest in the UK, has more than 100,000 volumes with subscriptions to over 200 current periodicals and law reports, supplemented by key legal databases such as Westlaw UK, LexisÒLibrary and HeinOnline.

3. The Nuffield Foundation is a charitable trust with the aim of advancing social well-being. It funds research and provides expertise, predominantly in social policy and education. It has supported this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. More information is available at

4. Arts and Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute over a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.