Research is a key activity of the Centre

Professor Freeman was commissioned to write an In-Depth Analysis on The Child Perspective in the Context of the 1980 Hague Convention by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament.


She made a presentation on the In-Depth Analysis when she participated in a panel at the Workshop to mark the 40th Anniversary of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention on Monday 16 November 2020. The other panel participants were Gerardine Goh Escolar, First Secretary of the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and Adriana de Ruiter, Chair of the Board of ASIME, the Spanish organisation for lawyers against International Child Abduction. The Vice-President and European Parliament Coordinator on Children’s Rights, Mrs. Ewa Kapacz, welcomed the remote participants which included Members of the European Parliament.

Following a round-table meeting convened by Professor Freeman in Israel in July 2019 concerning the voice of the child in international child abduction proceedings, Professor Freeman wrote a Project Report in collaboration with Associate Professor Nicola Taylor, and Professor Rhona Schuz:

The voice of the child in international child abduction proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention. London: University of Westminster.

Professor Freeman’s research on the long-term effects of parental child abduction was published in December 2014, with a launch event at the Inner Temple in association with 4 Paper Buildings, The Legal 500 Family and Children Set of the Year, 2019, where Professor Freeman in an Academic Tenant. She is also Principal Research Fellow at the University of Westminster, where the Centre’s Research Hub is now located.

Professor Freeman, together with Associate Professor Nicola Taylor, The University of Otago, New Zealand, worked on a project funded by The University of Westminster: Using Research to Improve Outcomes for Abducted Children which culminated in an Experts’ Meeting on Issues of Domestic/Family Violence and the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention which was held in association with The Permanent Bureau of The Hague Conference on Private International Law on 12 June 2017 at The University of Westminster. Participating experts included judges, government officials, Central Authority officials under the 1980 Convention, lawyers, mediators, psychologists, academics, researchers and members of 19 jurisdictions: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland) and the United States of America, as well as European Union officials and members of the Permanent Bureau of the HCCH. A report from the meeting appears on the website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and formed Information Document No. 6 for the 7th Special Commission on the Practical Operation of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention and the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention – October 2017.

Professor Freeman has completed, together with Associate Professor Nicola Taylor, their British Academy funded research project into the Outcomes for Objecting children under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. They held three global Workshops for invited international delegates on the Role of Children in 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention Proceedings as part of the project’s dissemination events: University of Auckland 8-9 February 2018; University of Genoa 8-9 March 2018, University of Westminster, London 22-23 March 2018. The London event began with a lecture by Baroness Hale on ‘Child Abduction from The Child’s Point of View”.

A summary of the project appears in The Judges’ Newsletter on International Child Protection, Special Focus The Child’s Voice – 15 Years Later Volume XX11/Summer-Fall 2018, 8

They are working together with other key international figures to take forward the issues highlighted in the research project.

Professor Freeman led a team at Westminster Law School in a public engagement project funded by The Quintin Hogg Trust concerning The Voices of Children and Young People in Decisions Affecting Their Lives. A policy briefing was widely disseminated in November 2018, and is available here.

Her prior work in this field includes reports undertaken for the international child abduction charity, reunite, on: The Outcomes For Children Returned Following an Abduction, September 2003; International Parental Child Abduction – The Effects, May 2006: The UK-Pakistan Protocol on Children’s Matters, Report Summary, February 2009; Relocation: The reunite Research, July 2009.

Professor Freeman has also undertaken two reports on Forced Marriage, with Professor Renate Klein (London Metropolitan University and the University of Maine, USA):

Dr Frances Burton will shortly publish her research into Cohabitation Law Reform in English Law. Her paper setting out the results of this comparative research was delivered in the July 2016 conference programme on the morning of Wednesday 6 July and as two guest lectures at Winchester University on 14 October 2016 and and 2 November 2017.

Her current research project is on Access to Justice. The Report by Dr Burton and Dr Carmen Draghici on the 2018 research fieldwork which Dr Burton undertook in the Family Court (entitled ‘Fast Tracking Low Value Financial Applications in the Family Court’) was published in June 2020 on the website of the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform, City University of London, which funded the work. A further project on Access to Justice in the Family Court, designed to build on the earlier work, is at present under consideration.

Dr Burton also contributed 2 chapters to Hart’s major publication ‘Women’s Legal Landmarks’, published for the centenaries of women’s suffrage and the opening of the Bar and Law Society to women, in which our Patron, Baroness Hale, also contributed a chapter on the landmark of her 1984 seminal work with Susan Atkins, ‘Women and the Law’ (which has been republished by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies as an open access edition in 2018).