Private Justice in the Domain of Family Law: The Place of Family Group Conferences Within the Range of ADR Methods

  • Annie de Roo
  • Rob JagtenbergEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 70)


In this contribution, the success of family mediation and collaborative practices across Europe will be briefly touched upon, but the focus will be on a less known method (or rather a decision-making model): ‘family group conferences’. The concept of family group conferences originated in New Zealand in 1989; less than 15 years later the proliferation of the concept had led to the adoption of such conferences in over 30 countries worldwide. This contribution analyses how referrals to family group conferences have been organized and regulated in three of those jurisdictions, New Zealand, England and Wales and the Netherlands. Among the issues to be dealt with are: the problems that crop up in the (judicial) assessment of requests for referrals, the nature of ‘a right to direct’ one’s own family affairs and the legal status of ‘plans’ concluded during a family group conference. The analysis ends with a preliminary assessment of the value added by this specific ADR variety, while further longitudinal, empirical research by the authors is in progress.



This longitudinal, socio-legal empirical research project (2015–2019) is subsidized by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO, together with the city of Rotterdam, under the aegis of the national Smart Governance programme.


  1. Civil Exchange (2015) Whose society? The final big society audit. Accessed 7 June 2018
  2. Connolly M, Masson J (2014) Private and public voices: does family group conferencing privilege the voice of children and families in child welfare? J Soc Welf Fam Law 36(4):403–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. de Roo A, Jagtenberg R (2012) Socio-economic returns on FGC for Dutch multi-problem families. In: Clarijs R, Malmberg Th (eds) The quiet revolution. SWP Publishers, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  4. Doolan M (2007) Duty calls: the response of law, policy and practice to participation rights in child welfare systems. Prot Child 22(1):10–18Google Scholar
  5. European Commission (2016), Report on the Application of Directive 2008/52/EC on Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters. Brussels: European Union, document COM 542 finalGoogle Scholar
  6. Evans C (2011) The public law outline and family group conferences. Child Care Pract 17(1):3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Geurts T, Sportel IDA (2015) Voorkomen van vechtscheidingen. Research Memorandum 2. Wetenschappelijk Onderzoeks - en Documentatie Centrum, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  8. Levine J (2000) The family group conference in the New Zealand CYP&F Act of 1989: review and evaluation. Behav Sci Law 18:517–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Milieu Ltd and ICF Consulting (2014) Study for an evaluation of the Mediation Directive. Brussels/LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Smith L, Hennessey J (1998) Making a difference: the Essex family group conference project. Essex Social Service publications, ChelmsfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Taylor M (2012) The big society and family group conferences: explanations and reflections. In: Clarijs R, Malmberg Th (eds) The quiet revolution. SWP Publishers, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  12. Ter Voert MJ, Klein Haarhuis CM (2015) Geschilbeslechtingsdelta 2014. Wetenschappelijk Onderzoeks - en Documentatie Centrum, The Hague, 109Google Scholar
  13. Tesler PH (2001) Collaborative law: achieving effective resolution in divorce without litigation. American Bar Association and Later Editions, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus School of LawRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations