Workshop: Law and the Ageing of Humankind

Monday 22 June & Tuesday 23 June, 2015

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B

Paper abstracts due by February 1st 2015

The W G Hart Legal Workshop 2015 will explore legal responses to the changing demography of Western European societies. Life expectancy in the UK is projected to rise to 87 years for women by 2033. In 2010 there were 1.3 million more children under the age of 16 than people aged over 65, but by 2035 the Office for National Statistics expects this pattern to be reversed with a projected excess of 4 million more people being aged over 65 than under 16.  The implications are wide ranging; from family forms and patterns of property holding, to tax receipts and welfare payments. Adult protection might overtake child protection as a focus for state surveillance. Some have identified major challenges of inter-generational justice. Former Minister, David Willets offered a provocative summary in his book The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future – And Why They Should Give it Back. This represents a major social transformation and there can be few areas of public and private life that will be unaffected.

How will the law respond? Do we need a Convention of the Rights of Older People to protect them in their ‘second childhoods’ or are they less vulnerable that the younger generations? How many of the building blocks of our legal doctrine assume continuing economic activity? How many generations make up a family? The Hart Workshop for 2015 invites emerging and established legal scholars to consider how their subject areas are or will need to adapt to the greying population.

In Shakespeare’s vision of the age of maturity:

  the justice,

               In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,

               With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

               Full of wise saws, and modern instances,

               And so he plays his part.


  • second youth’; rights to education and training for second careers, biomedical interventions to extend life;
  • age discrimination; to include employment issues, but also institutional discrimination within public services (e.g. unequal access to NHS services, inbuilt discrimination in resource-allocation models);
  • inter-generational justice; to include theoretical perspectives and specific issues around inheritance taxation & sale of homes to fund social care, justifications and effects of the distinction in the UK between means-tested social care and health care free at the point of delivery;
  • changing family patterns & obligations; to include issues around ownership & occupation of family homes, rights of grandparents and wider family members;
  • ageing and migration; changing patterns of labour mobility to support care system, social security and retirement to more sunny climates;
  • adult protection; elder abuse, court of protection, powers of attorney (including relevant empirical research);
  • adult social care services; including how to ensure human rights compliance in care homes & domicilary services, mainly delivered by private sector providers & role of judicial review in public service accountability;
  • end of life care; advance decisions to refuse treatments, family involvement in ‘Do not attempt resuscitation’ decisions, mercy killing, palliative care and meeting wishes over place of death;
  • evaluation of the case for a Commissioner for Older People, as recommended by the Birmingham Commission Policy Commission (2014). This would seem a suitable final plenary session.

Academic Directors:

  • Professor Jonathan Montgomery, University College London;
  • Professor Richard Ashcroft, Queen Mary, University of London.

Abstracts of 300 words (and no more than 500 maximum) should be sent to:  by email attachment by Monday 1 February  2015. Note: abstracts should not include embedded footnotes or endnotes.

Proposals for papers or panels that fall within the framework of these themes are welcomed. The committee especially welcomes contributions from early career researchers and papers of a cross-disciplinary nature. All papers will be posted on the workshop website. Subsequently, the organising committee intends to seek publication of a selection of these papers in more permanent form.

Registration fees will apply to the workshopWorkshop website here.

For general enquiries or if you are simply interested in attending the Workshop, please contact: Belinda Crothers, Academic Programmes Manager, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR.  Email:


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