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Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Research leave: Caring about care for adults and children
Brian Sloan discussing Guardianship for Minors in Europe at the University
of Regensburg.


Dr Brian Sloan, a Fellow and College Lecturer in Law at Robinson College, took research leave over Michaelmas Term 2014 and Lent Term 2015.  He was delighted to have the opportunity to expand his work on care for elderly and disabled adults following the publication of Informal Carers and Private Law in 2013. Brian was also able to develop his longstanding interest in child law.

During Lent Term, Brian was an Early Career Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) in Cambridge.  His Fellowship centred around a project entitled 'Adult Social Care and Property Rights'.  The project aimed to assess the impact of the Care Act 2014 on the provision of social care in England and on the property rights of care recipients and those who might legitimately expect to inherit from those recipients.  The project was also generously sponsored by the Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme and the Research Activities Fund of the Society of Legal Scholars, and was featured on the University website.

After testing out some of his ideas at a CRASSH seminar in January, Brian presented a paper on 'Adult Social Care and Property Rights' as part of the Challenging Ownership stream of the Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference at the University of Warwick in April, on the very day that some of the Care Act was brought into force.  The paper evaluated the Act's compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights.  The final version will be published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies next year, and a draft is currently freely available via the Faculty's SSRN series.

A conference on Current Issues in Succession Law at All Souls College, Oxford, in July gave Brian the chance to link together his new work on formal social care with his previous work on informal care, by presenting a paper on the limitations on a care recipient's ability to make a testamentary gift to an informal carer.  The paper is expected to be included in a collection edited by Professor Charles Mitchell and Dr Birke Häcker, and published by Hart in 2016.

Another paper emerging from Brian's CRASSH project concerned attempts to avoid paying for social care by declaring trusts and making similar dispositions to family members and others. He presented it at a conference on Modern Studies in the Law of Trusts and Wealth Management: Theory and Practice in Singapore, organised by Professors Richard Nolan, Tang Hang Wu and Kelvin Low.  A draft of the paper is available on SSRN, and will be published in the Conveyancer and Property Lawyer.

After the Singapore conference, Brian travelled to Sydney where he spent time as an Academic Visitor at the University of New South Wales.  He gave talks at both UNSW at the University of Technology, Sydney, and gathered material that will allow him to expand the comparative dimension of the work he began at CRASSH.  He was also pleased to be able to meet with a number of experts in relevant fields, in some cases for the first time.

As regards child law, Brian's leave allowed him to write an article on the impact of a Supreme Court judgment (in which his own previous work was cited) on adoption decisions in England.  He presented it at the Caribbean Regional Conference of the International Society of Family Law in Nassau in November 2014. 'Adoption Decisions in England: Re B (A Child) (Care Proceedings: Appeal) and Beyond' will be published in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law in 2016.  In December, Brian participated in a workshop on Guardianship for Minors in Europe, organised by Professor Anatol Dutta at the University of Regensburg.  The papers from the workshop, which will be collected in an edited volume, will inform the German Government as it seeks to reform the German law of "guardianship" (broadly equivalent to the exercise of parental responsibility by non-parents in English Law).

After speaking at an interdisciplinary workshop on adoption at Birkbeck, University of London in May (organised by Professor Matt Cook and Dr Daniel Monk), Brian travelled to Edinburgh in June for the latest colloquium of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Implementation Project.  At the colloquium, organised by Professor Elaine Sutherland and Dr Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane, Brian gave a comparative paper on English and Scots adoption law.  It is expected to form part of a collection of essays published by Cambridge University Press.

During his leave, Brian also attended several workshops associated with the Children's Rights Judgments project, which aims to "re-write" a series of real court judgments from a children’s rights perspective.  He will host the project's next workshop at Robinson in January 2016, and a book containing all the judgments and a commentary on each is expected to be published by Hart in 2017.

Brian will return to supervising a full complement of Equity, Family Law and Land Law students in the coming Michaelmas Term.  But the research he undertook during his leave will inform both his teaching and his publications for some time to come.