The gathering of Australia’s leading family law and child abduction experts at Terrigal on 19 March 2020 for the annual CLE by the Sea which was to occur in a traditional format will now be delivered in a new way!  Arrangements have been made for CLE by the Sea to go “online” in response to the continuing concerns surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19 and the importance of protecting all our staff and our delegates.

Due to the overwhelming response from lawyers wishing to hear from the impressive line up of speakers presenting at the conference the organisers have made arrangements for the presentations to be streamed remotely by video conference from Canberra, Newcastle and Sydney to the offices and homes of all the delegates.  Coordination of the streaming will take place from Terrigal on the Central Coast.

Jacqueline Vincent, Managing Director of Watts McCray Lawyers, the organisers of CLE by the Sea, said “We did not want to cancel or postpone the conference, given the significant interest that both the presenters and topics have generated and the resulting disappointment to those delegates should we have simply cancelled.  At the same time wanted to best protect delegates and presenters in the current climate. The switch to an online platform provides an opportunity for the delegates to view and listen to the presentations from the comfort of their homes and offices and to best safeguard everyone.  This is a demonstration of how through modern technology we can meet the challenges of these times”.

Her Honour Judge Terry from the Federal Circuit Court in Newcastle will speak about interim hearings in family law matters involving risk and family violence issues. This is a significant issue for the over 100 family lawyers practising family law on the Central Coast, which has one of the highest domestic violence rates in the State.  The latest NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

(BOSCAR) statistics[1] indicate there were 1,624 domestic violence related assaults in 2019 on the Central Coast (or more than 30 each week). Across NSW domestic violence related assaults increased 5% in 2019 and breaches of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders increased 12.4%.  Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas saw a 10.4% rise in domestic violence related assaults in 2019.

The Honourable Ian Coleman SC, a former Justice of the Family Court, and Melissa Gillies SC from Culwulla Chambers in Sydney will engage the delegates on the cross-over between estate and family law and also advise on practical tips on briefing barristers.

Emily Thomas, from the Commonwealth Attorney General’s office in Canberra (the department with the responsibility for ensuring Australia complies with its international obligations under the Hague Child Abduction Convention) will be speaking.  This topic has provoked considerable interest from many of the delegates currently registered.

Watts McCray Special Counsel Maurice Edwards and Associate Michelle Meares will be moderating the sessions from a Central Coast base.

Now that the CLE by the Sea has switched to “an online” format further registrations can be accepted until 2.00pm on Thursday, 19 March 2020.  Register here.


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