Portrait of Dr Julie McCandless

Dr Julie McCandless

Senior Lecturer
Co-Director of Graduate Studies (Research)

About

Julie McCandless holds the following qualifications: LLB, LLM, PhD, PGCTLHE.

She studied Law with Politics at Queen’s University Belfast, graduating with a First Class LLB Honours degree in 2002. She then undertook graduate studies in law at Cornell Law School, graduating in 2004 with an LLM (Distinction), followed by doctoral studies at Keele University. She was awarded a PhD in Law in 2010 for her thesis entitled, Reproducing the sexual family: law, parenthood and gender in assisted reproduction. This work examined the ongoing role of the sexual family concept in the legal regulation of parenthood following assisted reproductive techniques such as donor insemination and collaborative reproductive practices such as surrogacy. It found significant differences in the construction of motherhood and fatherhood in UK law.

Before joining Kent Law School Julie previously worked at the London School of Economics, Oxford Brookes University and Keele University. As well as her academic roles, she has worked in a number of roles in student residences and student support services. She is currently the Co-Director of Graduate Studies (Research) in Kent Law School.

Research interests

Julie has published widely in the field of human reproduction, parenthood law and the regulation of fertility treatment. The thread that underpins much of her research is the role of the traditional, two-parent family model in family law and related regulation. As well as academic publications, she was a co-investigator for a major study for the European Parliament in 2012-13 that compared surrogacy law across EU jurisdictions and several non-EU countries. She is currently developing a socio-legal research interest in civil birth registration, as well as the wider relationship between registration and law. 

Julie is also interested in feminist legal studies, feminist perspectives on law, and gender, sexuality and the law. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of Feminist Legal Studies since 2012, acting as Articles Editor from 2014-17.

Along with Máiréad Enright (Birmingham Law School) and Aoife O’Donoghue (Durham Law School) she is the co-director of the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project, which is a collective of over 100 legal and other academics, legal practitioners, feminist activists, poets, performance artists and students. Together, they have rewritten a series of legal judgments from Ireland and Northern Ireland, injecting important feminist perspectives into discourses and understandings of formal law and legal processes. A book collecting the rewritten judgments and other contributions was published in 2017. You can read the introduction to the book here and Julie’s feminist judgment (with a commentary by Marian Duggan) here. Members of the collective continue to collaborate on feminist activism and law reform projects. 

Research interests summery:

  • Human reproduction and law
  • Family law, especially parenthood
  • Aspects of healthcare law
  • Birth registration, civil registration and law
  • Feminist legal theory, feminist judging, gender and the law
  • Socio-legal approaches to research

Teaching

Julie teaches Undergraduates about issues associated with Family Law.

Publications

Article

  • McCandless, J. (2017). Reforming birth registration law in England and Wales?. Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online [Online] 4:52-58. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rbms.2017.07.001.
    The Law Commission of England and Wales is considering what its 13th Programme of Law Reform should address. During the consultation process, a project on birth registration law has been mooted. This is a very welcome proposal given that civil birth registration in England and Wales is a compulsory procedure that not only finds its roots in the early Victorian era, but also remains very similar, at least in terms of form and the information that is recorded. I first use two recent legal challenges to illustrate why the current system is coming under increasing pressure. I further use these examples to caution against a law reform agenda that is narrowly focused on the precise information recorded, without a preliminary and wider examination of what the role and purpose of birth registration is, and should be, in society. I argue that this needs to be addressed before the state can justify the parameters of the information recorded. I then use an outline of historical reforms relating to the registration of births outside of marriage to highlight the normative two-parent family model that underpins the birth registration system. I argue that legal reform must be cognizant of the tenacity of this normative family model, particularly in relation to reform proposals surrounding donor conception and the annotation of birth certificates. Finally, I draw attention to wider developments in family law that cast birth registration as a social policy tool for the facilitation of parent–child relationships, particularly unmarried fathers.
  • Fletcher, R., McCandless, J., Russell, Y. and Thomas, D. (2016). Law’s Vulnerability, and Vulnerability in Law McCandless, J., Russell, Y. and Thomas, D. eds. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 24:243-247. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-016-9336-6.
    Vulnerability acts as a touchstone in this issue as we find our contributors reflecting on its intersection with gender and sexuality in different ways. Saeidzadeh draws out the significance of misrecognition in her consideration of responses to transsexuality in Iran, while Doonan highlights the potential pitfalls of relying on situational vulnerability in her critique of anti-trafficking legal discourse in the US. Lindsey considers the legal potential of situational vulnerability as a tool to address the ‘persistent failure to take action against abuse’ in the UK. Durojaye and Oluduro contribute to the recent revitalisation in asking ‘the woman question’ by drawing on African law and literature to flesh out the development of a gender-sensitive, substantive equality approach from the jurisprudence of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as it addresses vulnerability to violence. The reviewers continue this international conversation as they address recent contributions on sexuality, family formation and social security.
  • Fletcher, R., McCandless, J., Russell, Y. and Thomas, D. (2016). On being uncomfortable Fletcher, R., McCandless, J., Russell, Y. and Thomas, D. eds. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 24:121-126. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-016-9325-9.
    Since the last issue of Feminist Legal Studies, we editorial board members have had lots of conversations about comfort, displacement and alienation. As we developed the programme for #FLaK2016 we thought about it as a kind of pulling ourselves out of our comfort zone (Fletcher et al. in Fem Leg Stud 24:1–6, 2016), if academic events and journals ever have a comfort zone. Drawing on a mix of feminist live performance methods and a science and technology studies-type curiosity for objects of experimentation, we tried out a kitchen table method of hosting a live research conversation with activists, artists and academics over two days (Fletcher in Fem Leg Stud 23:241–252, 2015). But we had not fully anticipated the way that the Brexit result would contribute to and complicate discomfort. A fuller analysis of FLaK awaits a later moment, but here we pick out this one aspect of our gathering—feelings of discomfort – as they animate the contributions to this issue in interesting ways.
  • Fletcher, R., McCandless, J., Russell, Y. and Thomas, D. (2016). Internationalism and Commitment at the Kitchen Table Fletcher, R., Russell, Y., McCandless, J. and Thomas, D. eds. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 24:1-6. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-016-9318-8.
    The contributors to this issue focus on legal internationalism (Peroni 2016; Turan 2016), including hybrid mixes with nationalist forms (Sankey 2016). They have provoked us as editors to think more about these sites and forms of engagement. Sankey shows how civic participation in the ECCC has played a key role in surfacing the gendered harms of separation and starvation. Turan highlights the problems with ICC exclusion of the experience of men and boys from sexual violence. Peroni expresses her hesitations over the Istanbul Convention given an association between assumed vulnerability and migrant women, while admiring its uncoupling of violence and culture. Cruz’s interview with Wendy Brown (2016) contextualizes and expands on these themes as they consider, with other participants, the future of feminist theory in the context of neo-liberal capturing of rights and legal space. Thinking more about internationalism and commitment in this context also helps us hold a mirror up to ourselves as we reflect more critically on our own naming of FLS as an ‘international’ journal. Together these contributions, and the reviews of new work, play a role in fleshing out an editorial commitment to enacting the journal as a living thing that ‘hangs together somehow’ (Mol 2002) even as it is known differently in different places.
  • McCandless, J. and Sheldon, S. (2010). The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008) and the Tenacity of the Sexual Family Form. Modern Law Review [Online] 73:175-207. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.2010.00790.x.
    The new parenthood provisions set out in Part 2 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 have been attacked as dangerous and radical, offering a ‘lego?kit model of family life’ and a ‘magical mystery tour’ in how legal fatherhood is to be determined. In this paper, we explain what is innovative about these new provisions but also explore what they owe to deep?rooted traditional assumptions about the family. Relying both on published documentation relating to this reform process and a small number of key actor interviews, we trace the imprint of what Fineman has described as the ‘sexual family’ model on the provisions. We conclude that the way that parenthood is framed within the legislation relies on a number of important normative assumptions which received very little scrutiny in this process. We also highlight a number of tensions within this framing which, we suggest, may create future problems for judicial determination.
  • McCandless, J. and Sheldon, S. (2010). "No Father Required"? The Welfare Assessment in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008). Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 18:201-225. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-010-9164-z.
  • McCandless, J. and Sheldon, S. (2010). “No Father Required”? The Welfare Assessment in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 18:201-255. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-010-9164-z.
    Of all the changes to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 that were introduced in 2008 by legislation of the same name, foremost to excite media attention and popular controversy was the amendment of the so-called welfare clause. This clause forms part of the licensing conditions which must be met by any clinic before offering those treatment services covered by the legislation. The 2008 Act deleted the statutory requirement that clinicians consider the need for a father of any potential child before offering a woman treatment, substituting for it a requirement that clinicians must henceforth consider the child’s need for “supportive parenting”. In this paper, we first briefly recall the history of the introduction of s 13(5) in the 1990 Act, before going on to track discussion of its amendment through the lengthy reform process that preceded the introduction of the 2008 Act. We then discuss the meaning of the phrase “supportive parenting” with reference to guidance regarding its interpretation offered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. While the changes to s 13(5) have been represented as suggesting a major change in the law, we suggest that the reworded section does not represent a significant break from the previous law as it had been interpreted in practice. This raises the question of why it was that an amendment that is likely to make very little difference to clinical practice tended to excite such attention (and with such polarising force). To this end, we locate debates regarding s 13(5) within a broader context of popular anxieties regarding the use of reproductive technologies and, specifically, what they mean for the position of men within the family.
  • McCandless, J. (2008). Status and anomaly: Re D (contact and parental responsibility: lesbian mothers and known father) [2006] EWHC 2 (Fam), [2006] 1 FCR 556. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law [Online] 30:63-73. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09649060802124836.
  • Fletcher, R., Fox, M. and McCandless, J. (2008). Legal embodiment: analysing the body of healthcare law. Medical Law Review [Online] 16:321-345. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/medlaw/fwn017.
    In this essay and the contributions that follow, we advocate an expansion of the parameters of mainstream healthcare law to include feminist analyses of embodiment. We suggest that a more thorough engagement with the meaning and value of embodiment can better inform normative assessment and critical appraisal in healthcare law. Law's conventional approach to regulating bodily interventions has been to consider the body as an object of analysis rather than as a category of analysis. In our view, legal analysis could offer a richer understanding of law's engagement with bodies and bodily materials if it adopted a thicker conception of embodiment. Such a conception would seek to account for the ways in which we value the living physical body as it enables our being in the world and our interactions with others.
  • McCandless, J. (2005). Recognising family diversity: the ‘boundaries’ of RE G. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 13:323-336. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-005-9006-6.
    In Re G, the Court of Appeal awarded a joint residence order to the appellant, who was the lesbian ex-partner of the child’s full biological mother. The award also indirectly vested the appellant, a social parent, with parental responsibility and extended a body of case law to same-sex couples, which had until now only been applied to heterosexual couples. The initial purpose of this note is to outline the legal issues of the case in the context of the framework of parental responsibility set out in the Children Act 1989, putting forward a test of ‘parental fitness’ (which focuses on active ‘care’ as its central consideration) for social parents who must appeal to the court’s discretion to obtain parental responsibility. Secondly, the note offers at once a positive reading of Re G while highlighting a number of reservations centring upon continued legal preference for the ‘sexual family’. It is argued that while the legal recognition of ‘family diversity’ and parenthood remains modelled on this ‘sexual family’, the relaxation of family ‘boundaries’ (despite legal victories such as Re G) will remain limited.

Book section

  • Cloatre, E. and Enright, M. (2017). McGee v Attorney General. In: Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity. Oxford: Hart Publishing.
  • Ring, S. and Flynn, E. (2017). DPP v C. In: Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donohgue, A. eds. Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity. Hart.
  • Duggan, M. (2017). Commentary on A and B (by C) v A (Health and Social Services Trust). In: Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity. London, UK: Hart Publishing, pp. 623-643.
    The case in this chapter is a clinical negligence claim against a fertility clinic, which carelessly used the wrong donor sperm in a woman’s IVF treatment (A and B (by C, their mother and next friend) v A (Health and Social Services Trust) [2011] NICA 28). The consequences of this mistake were that the children born from the fertility treatment had different skin colour to the woman and her husband, as well as each other. The claim was from the children, as the clinic settled out-of-court with the parents. Marian Duggan’s commentary explains and problematizes the approach of the feminist judgment, as well as putting the broader identity issues signalled by the case in context while Julie McCandless’ subsequent feminist judgment deploys very different reasoning to the original court decisions, and in part reaches a different conclusion.
  • Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. (2017). Introduction: Troubling Judgment. In: Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity. Hart Publishing. Available at: https://www.bloomsburyprofessional.com/uk/northern-irish-feminist-judgments-9781509908943/.
  • McCandless, J. (2017). A and B (by C) v A (Health and Social Services Trust). In: Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity. Hart Publishing, pp. 623-644. Available at: https://www.bloomsburyprofessional.com/uk/northern-irish-feminist-judgments-9781509908943/.
  • McCandless, J. (2017). Feminist Judgment of A and B by C (their mother and next friend) v A Health and Social Services Trust [2011] NICA 28. In: Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. Judges’ Troubles: Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments and the Gendered Politics of Identity. Hart Publishing, pp. 623-644.
  • Sheldon, S. and McCandless, J. (2014). Genetically Challenged: The Determination of Legal Parenthood in Assisted Conception. In: Relatedness in Assisted Reproduction: Families, Origins and Identities. Cambridge University Press, pp. 61-78.
  • McCandless, J. and Sheldon, S. (2014). Genetically challenged: the determination of legal parenthood in assisted reproduction. In: Freeman, T., Graham, S., Ebtehaj, F. and Richards, M. eds. Relatedness in Assisted Reproduction: Families, Origins and Identities. Cambridge University Press, pp. 61-79.
  • Sheldon, S. and McCandless, J. (2013). Le "Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act" de 2008 et la Persistence du Modele de la Famille Sexuelle. In: Hennette-Vauchez, S., Moschel, M. and Roman, D. eds. Ce Que Le Genre Fait Out Droit. .
  • McCandless, J. (2012). The role of sexual partnership in UK family law: the case of legal parenthood. In: Cutas, D. and Chan, S. eds. Families: Beyond the Nuclear Ideal. Bloomsbury Academic, London, UK, pp. 13-33.
  • McCandless, J. (2011). The Changing Form of Birth Registration. In: Ebtehaj, F., Herring, J., Johnson, M. and Richards, M. eds. Birth Rites and Rights. Hart Publishing, pp. 187-204. Available at: https://www.bloomsburyprofessional.com/uk/birth-rites-and-rights-9781849461887/.

Confidential report

  • McCandless, J. (2013). Cinderella and Her Cruel Sisters: Parenthood, Welfare and Gender in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. Vol. 32.

Edited book

  • Enright, M. and McCandless, J. (2017). Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity. [Online]. Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. Hart. Available at: http://www.hartpub.co.uk/books/details.asp?isbn=9781849465748.
    The Irish project 'Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges' Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity' builds upon the work of the feminist judgment project completed at Durham and Kent and which integrated feminist theory and judicial method, re-writing influential judgments from feminist perspectives. The project will produce an anthology of re-written judgments from Northern/Ireland as well as innovative web resources with materials of use to both academics and civil society. Bringing together academic partners at institutions across the UK and Ireland including the Law Schools at Kent, LSE, UCD, UCC, Queen's Belfast, and the University of Ulster, with solicitors, barristers and civil society groups, the project creates a broad new community of Irish feminist scholars around an ambitious Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. The project will create tangible resources which can be used to engender a societal dialogue about legal decision-making and social change, developing dynamic resources for future research and teaching in judicial studies. The project focuses on the gendered political roles of judges in contexts of transition from conflict, colonialism and religious patriarchy.
  • Enright, M. and McCandless, J. (2017). Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity. [Online]. Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. Hart Publishing. Available at: https://www.bloomsburyprofessional.com/uk/northern-irish-feminist-judgments-9781509908943/.
  • Enright, M. and McCandless, J. (2017). Judges’ Troubles: Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments and the Gendered Politics of Identity. Enright, M., McCandless, J. and O’Donoghue, A. eds. London, UK: Hart Publishing.

Internet publication

  • McCandless, J. (2016). Is It Time to Allow More Than Two Parents on Birth Certificates? [website]. Available at: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2109977-is-it-time-to-allow-more-than-two-parents-on-birth-certificates/.
  • McCandless, J. (2016). Should the Law Commission Take a Look at the Birth Registration System? [website]. Available at: http://www.bionews.org.uk/page.asp?obj_id=715327.
  • McCandless, J. (2012). Gender, Assisted Reproduction and Legal Parenthood: Is the Law Fit for Purpose? [blog post]. Available at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/equityDiversityInclusion/2012/01/gender-assisted-reproduction-and-legal-parenthood-is-the-law-fit-for-purpose/.
  • McCandless, J. (2012). Transgender Parenting and the Law: We Must Be Creative With Legislation to Cater for Parents Who Do Not Fit Neatly With the Traditional Family Model [blog post]. Available at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/parenthood-laws-family/.
  • McCandless, J. (2011). Who’s the Daddy? [website]. Available at: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/researchHighlights/Law/HFEA.aspx.
  • McCandless, J. (2011). Two Men and a Baby: Pedantic Semantics [online newsletter]. Available at: http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_88897.asp.
  • McCandless, J. and Sheldon, S. (2009). Parenthood and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 [online newsletter]. Available at: http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_38063.asp.

Monograph

  • McCandless, J., Enright, M. and O’Donoghue, A. (2016). Troubling Judgment: The Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. LSE Law Society and Economy Working Paper Series. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2868075.
  • McCandless, J., Enright, M. and O’Donoghue, A. (2016). Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges’ Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity in Northern/Irish Courts. LSE Law Policy Briefing Series.
  • Duggan, M. and McCandless, J. (2015). “Right Thinking People” and Suffering Through the Politics of Difference in Northern Ireland: A Feminist Judgment. London School of Economics. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2702163.
    This paper forms part of the Northern/Ireland Feminist Judgments Project. It comes in two parts: a feminist judgment and an accompanying commentary. The purpose of a Feminist Judgments Project is to rewrite the “missing” feminist judgments in significant legal cases. A driver of the methodology is to put feminist theory and critique into action, and to show how cases could have been reasoned and/or decided differently. The case in this chapter is a clinical negligence claim against a fertility clinic, which carelessly used the wrong donor sperm in a woman’s IVF treatment (A and B (by C, their mother and next friend) v A (Health and Social Services Trust) [2011] NICA 28). The consequences of this mistake were that the children born from the fertility treatment had different skin colour to the woman and her husband, as well as each other. The claim was from the children, as the clinic settled out-of-court with the parents. Julie McCandless’ feminist judgment deploys very different reasoning to the original court decisions, and in part reaches a different conclusion. Marian Duggan’s commentary explains and problematizes the approach of the feminist judgment, as well as putting the broader identity issues signalled by the case in context.
  • McCandless, J. and Duggan, M. (2015). ’Right Thinking people’ and Suffering through the Politics of Difference in Northern Ireland: A Feminist Judgement. London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • McCandless, J. (2008). Response to the Consultation Paper: No One Written Off: Reforming Welfare to Reward Responsibility. Research Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/clgs/documents/pdfs/CentreResponceToReformingWelfare08.pdf.
    consultation response

Review

  • McCandless, J. (2013). Book Review: Elizabeth Wicks, The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests. Modern Law Review [Online] 76:178-180. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12009_1.
  • McCandless, J. (2008). Review of Alison Diduck and Katherine O’Donovan (eds): Feminist Perspectives on Family Law (2006). Child and Family Law Quarterly:270-275.
  • McCandless, J. (2007). Book Review. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 15:362-372. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-007-9068-8.
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