Biography

Associate Professor of Family Law, University of Oxford; Tutorial Fellow in Law, Oriel College. 

TEACHING

Family Law (BA special option); Children, Families, and the State (BCL option); Tort Law (BA core subject).  I am the Senior Member for the Children's and Family Law Discussion Group

As part of the undergraduate Family Law course, I lecture on financial provision upon relationship breakdown, children's rights, child protection, and parenthood and parental responsibility.  My postgraduate teaching centres on the legal regulation of children (children's rights theory, international children's rights, welfare and wellbeing, and children and poverty).

If you are interested in pursuing Family Law at the graduate level, either as the subject-matter of a BCL dissertation, or for the MPhil, MLitt, or DPhil, I would be happy to discuss potential topics broadly within the fields of Family Law, Children's Law, or Education Law. 

PROFILE AND BIO

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  In 2015, I was awarded a Distinction on the Post-Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

In 2016, I was a finalist for Oxford University Press' national Law Teacher of the Year award.  I have received multiple university teaching awards:  In 2015, I was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award from the University; in 2011-12, I was awarded the Oxford University Student Union Teaching Award for the Most Acclaimed Lecturer in the Social Sciences Division.

Outside of the University, I am an Associate Member of 1 King's Bench Walk.   

I pursued my first two law degrees at Oxford (including a year studying at the University of Konstanz in Germany), before undertaking further graduate studies at Queen's University in Canada.  In the course of my graduate studies, I was a recipient of the Canadian Rhodes Scholars' Foundation Scholarship, the Commonwealth Scholarship, and AHRC graduate funding in addition to competitive internal awards.  From 2005 to 2007, I was an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Alberta in Canada.

RESEARCH

My research is centred on family law, children's law, and education law.  Copies of my recent publications and presentations are available here.  In particular, I work on family law theory, especially: children's rights and interests in domestic, European, and international law; aspects of private ordering and financial provision upon relationship breakdown; and, within education law, especially exclusion from school.  Whilst my perspective is theoretical, my work is also deeply practical and concerned with how we might draw on the underlying theoretical arguments to improve outcomes for children and families regulated by law.  

Publications

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  • L Ferguson, 'Brexit, Non-Court Dispute Resolution, and Family Justice' (2017) 47 Family Law (forthcoming)
  • L Ferguson, 'Commentary on Grover J's reimagined judgment in Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v Canada (Attorney General) 2004 SCC 4' in Kathryn Hollingsworth, Helen Stalford, and Stephen Gilmore (eds), Children's Rights Judgments: From Academic Vision to New Practice (Hart 2017) (forthcoming)
  • L Ferguson, 'Hard divorces make bad law [Case comment on Owens v Owens [2017] EWCA Civ 182]' (2017) 39 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law [Case Note] (forthcoming)
  • L Ferguson, 'The Curious Case of Civil Partnership: The Extension of Marriage to Same-Sex Couples and the Status-Altering Consequences of a Wait-and-See Approach' (2016) 28 Child and Family Law Quarterly 347
  • L Ferguson, 'The Denial of Opposite-Sex Couples' Access to Civil Partnership as Discrimination? [Case comment on Steinfeld and Keidan v Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin)]' (2016) 38 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 450 [Case Note]
  • L Ferguson, 'Case Comment on S v S [2014] EWHC 7 (Fam): 'Arbitral Awards: A Magnetic Factor of Determinative Importance, Yet Not To Be Rubber-Stamped'' (2015) 35 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 99 [Case Note]
  • L Ferguson, 'The Jurisprudence of Making Decisions Affecting Children: An Argument to Prefer Duty to Children’s Rights and Welfare' in Alison Diduck, Noam Peleg, and Helen Reece (eds), Law in Society: Reflections on Children, Family, Culture and Philosophy – Essays in Honour of Michael Freeman (Brill: Netherlands 2015)
  • L Ferguson, 'Wyatt v Vince: the reality of individualised justice – financial orders, forensic delay, and access to justice' (2015) 27 Child and Family Law Quarterly 195 [Case Note]
    In Wyatt v Vince, the Supreme Court was called upon to consider the correct interpretation of rule 4.4 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010, which governs the court’s power to strike out a statement of case. The Court of Appeal’s 2013 decision, from which the wife appealed, was the first reported decision on the interpretation of rule 4.4. This case commentary examines the Supreme Court’s unanimous judgment in detail. Whilst the judicial interpretation of rule 4.4 resolves the matter before the court, Lord Wilson’s judgment contains critical analysis of the nature of ‘needs’ and ‘contributions’ within the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, section 25 exercise, both independently and as they relate to delay. The court responds to the ‘forensic delay’ on the facts by narrowing its construction of ‘needs’ to those generated by the relationship and treating delay as a countervailing consideration to weigh against ‘contributions’. The former reasoning raises the possibility of a more coherent, interpersonal theoretical basis for financial provision upon relationship breakdown more generally. The latter arguably constructs delay as a substantive consideration, which strengthens the social obligation basis for financial provision.
  • L Ferguson, '“Families in all their Subversive Variety”: Over-Representation, the Ethnic Child Protection Penalty, and Responding to Diversity whilst Protecting Children' (2014) 63 Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 43
    ISBN: 1059-4337
  • L Ferguson, 'Arbitration in Financial Dispute Resolution: The Final Step to Reconstructing the Default(s) and Exception(s)?' (2013) 35 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 115
    DOI: 10.1080/09649069.2013.774757
    In this article, I argue for caution in embracing family arbitration as a new form of private ordering for resolving parties’ financial disputes. I explain that family arbitration may be more successful than other forms of private ordering and final court hearings in enabling certain types of parties to resolve certain types of disputes. I consider why family arbitration may not become numerically significant despite its potential benefits, but may be much more important in normative terms. Lawyer-led negotiations remain the most common form of out-of-court resolution and constitute the de facto default form of bargaining in the shadow of the normative regime framed by ss 23-25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Together with the transformation in approach to nuptial agreements, family arbitration may mark a normative shift towards autonomy and private ordering. I question whether this is a desirable step for family law, at least before we have resolved the underlying policy debate.
  • L Ferguson, 'Not Merely Rights for Children but Children's Rights: The Theory Gap and the Assumption of the Importance of Children's Rights' (2013) 21 International Journal of Children's Rights 177
    ISBN: 0927-5568
  • Mavis Maclean, Rosemary Hunter, Fran Wasoff and L Ferguson, 'Family Justice in Hard Times: Can We Learn from Other Jurisdictions?' (2011) 33 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 319
    ISBN: 0964-9069
  • L Ferguson, 'Rights, Social Inequalities, and the Persuasive Force of Interpersonal Obligation' (2008) 22 International Journal of Family Law and Policy 61
    ISBN: 1360-9939
  • L Ferguson, 'Uncertainty and Indecision in the Legal Regulation of Children: The Albertan Experience' (2007) 23(2) Canadian Journal of Family Law 159
    ISBN: 0704-1225
  • L Ferguson, 'Case Comment: ‘Retroactivity, Social Obligation, and Child Support’' (2006) 43 Alberta Law Review 1049 [Case Note]
  • Nicholas Bala, Martha Shaffer and L Ferguson, 'Family Law for the Older Canadian' in Ann Soden (ed), Advising the Older Client (Butterworths 2005)
  • L Ferguson, 'Trial by Proxy: How s.15 Removes Age from Adolescence' (2005) Journal of Law and Equality 84
  • L Ferguson, 'The End of an Age: Beyond Age Restrictions for Minors' Medical Treatment Decisions' (2004) SSRN
    This report was commissioned by the Law Commission of Canada. However, shortly after the report was published on the Law Commission’s website in 2005, the incoming Canadian government abolished the Commission and reports on pending issues were removed from the website. It is now available on the SSRN site.

News

Research programmes

Research projects

Research Interests

Family law theory; children's rights; welfare and wellbeing; education law

Options taught

Tort, Family Law, Children, Families and the State

Research projects