Julie McCandless

Email: j.c.mccandless@lse.ac.uk
Administrative support: Anna Lisowska
Room: New Academic Building 6.07
Tel.  020-7955-7873

Julie is assistant professor of medical and family law, having joined the LSE in September 2010.  Julie held a previous lectureship post at Oxford Brookes University from January 2009. She was awarded her PhD from Keele University in July 2010. Her doctoral project was entitled Reproducing the Sexual Family: Law, Gender and Parenthood in Assisted Reproduction. Previous to this, she studied law at the Queen’s University of Belfast (LLB) and Cornell University (LLM).

Research Interests

Julie is interested in the legal regulation of gender and intimate relationships. Her work to date has focussed on human reproduction and parenthood and she has a particular interest in the intersection of health care law with family life. She is also interested in interdisciplinary and empirically informed approaches to socio-legal research, as well as feminist perspectives on law.

Julie has recently been involved in a major study on surrogacy law for the European Parliament. Along with Máiréad Enright from Kent Law School and Aoife O’Donoghue from Durham Law School, she is co-director of the Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments Project. The project builds on the English Feminist Judgments Project by rewriting the ‘missing’ feminist judgments in a series of important Irish and Northern Irish cases and by considering the political role of the judiciary in societies marked by transition from conflict, colonialism and religious patriarchy.

Julie is also developing a socio-legal research project on birth registration, which aims to critically evaluate recent legislative changes, as well as the role of birth registration in contemporary society more generally.

External Activities
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Feminist Legal Studies (2013-)

  • Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association (member of the Executive Committee and Membership Secretary 2010-2013)

Selected articles
and chapters in books

(with Máiréad Enright & Dr Aoife O’Donoghue) 'Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments: Judges' Troubles and the Gendered Politics of Identity in Northern/Irish Courts' LSE Law Policy Briefing Series 17/2016

(with Máiréad Enright & Dr Aoife O’Donoghue) 'Troubling Judgment: The Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project'  Law, Society and Economy Working Paper Series 16-2016 (2016)

This paper introduces the scope and methodology of the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. This Project inaugurates a fresh dialogue on gender, legal judgment, judicial power and national identity in Ireland and Northern Ireland, by engaging in a collective process of writing ‘missing’ feminist judgments in a series of legal cases that have been significant in shaping Irish and Northern Irish law. Through this process of judicial re-imagining, the project has taken into account peculiarly Northern/Irish concerns in investigating how gender is shaped through judicial practices and how the Northern/Irish judiciaries have contributed to the construction of a gendered national identity across the island since the founding of the two jurisdictions almost a century ago. In considering how themes of gender and national identity have cross-cut women’s experiences and activism in both jurisdictions, our project – following on from feminist judgments projects in other common law jurisdictions such as Canada, England, Australia and most recently, the USA – takes the feminist judging methodology in important and challenging new directions.

(with Ruth Fletcher; Yvette Russell; Dania Thomas) 'On Being Uncomfortable' Feminist Legal Studies (2016) 24 (2) pp.121-126

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.

(with Marian Duggan) '"Right Thinking People" and Suffering Through the Politics of Difference in Northern Ireland: A Feminist Judgment' LSE Law Society and Economy Working Paper Series, WPS 24-2015

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.

review of Heather Douglas, Francesca Bartlett, Trish Luker, Rosemary Hunter (eds) (2014) Australian Feminist Judgments Project: Righting and Rewriting the Law (Hart: 2014) in Irish Jurist (2015) (54) pp.180-182

‘Genetically challenged: the determination of legal parenthood in assisted reproduction’ in Tabitha Freeman, Susanna Graham, Fatemeh Ebtehaj and Martin Richards (eds) Relatedness in Assisted Reproduction: Families, Origins and Identities (Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp 61-79 (with Sally Sheldon).

A Comparative Study on the Regime of Surrogacy in EU Member States (May 2013, published by the European Parliament) (with Laurence Brunet, Konstantina Davaki, Claire Marzo, Janeen Carruthers and Derek King)

This study provides a preliminary overview of the wide range of policy concerns relating to surrogacy as a practice at national, European and global level. It undertakes an extensive examination of national legal approaches to surrogacy. It also analyses existing European Union law and the law of the European Convention of Human Rights to determine what obligations and possibilities surround national and transnational surrogacy. The study concludes that it is impossible to indicate a particular legal trend across the EU, however all Member States appear to agree on the need for a child to have clearly defined legal parents and civil status.

‘Cinderella and her cruel sisters: parenthood, welfare and gender in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008’ 32(2) New Genetics and Society 135-153 (2013)

This paper takes as its starting point the comparative parliamentary time spent discussing the welfare of the child and parenthood provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. While the former commanded over 8 hours of debate – most of which was spent discussing the proposed removal of the words "the child's need for a father" from the legislation – the parenthood provisions generated approximately only one hour of debate. This seems curious, given that the parenthood provisions (which govern the attribution of legal parenthood following certain fertility treatments governed by the legislation) are likely to have much more of a "real life" effect, and given that subtle changes in the wording of the welfare provision from “need for a father" to "need for supportive parenting" are unlikely to make a great deal of difference to actual clinical practice. In contrast, extending legal parenthood to a second female parent from the moment of a child's birth has important symbolic as well as practical legal consequences for two women having a child together. This paper begins by setting this curious scene and explaining why it is problematic. The first part of the paper focusses on the reform of the welfare clause and will contextualize the extensive discussion of this clause in socio-political concerns about assisted reproduction, the role of men and masculinity in family life, and the role of genetics in underpinning these concerns. Against this backdrop, the second part of the paper then analyzes why so little attention was paid to the parenthood provisions, pointing to the "common sense" assumptions which typically shored up the discussions surrounding this part of the legislation. This part of the paper will also draw attention to a number of significant gender-based connotations in the parenthood provisions.

‘The Role of Sexual Partnership in UK Family Law and Policy: the Case of Legal Parenthood’ in Daniela Cutas and Sarah Chan (eds) Families: Beyond the Nuclear Ideal (Bloomsbury, Science, Ethics and Innovation series: 2012: chpt 2)

' "No Father Required?" The Welfare Assessment in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008)’ 18(3) Feminist Legal Studies 201-225 (with Sally Sheldon)

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. 

‘The Changing Form of Birth Registration?’ in Fatemeh Ebtehaj, Jonathan Herring, Martin Johnson and Martin Richards (eds) Birth Rites and Rights (Oxford: Hart: 2011)  pp.187-204

‘The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008) and the Tenacity of the Sexual Family Form’ (2010) 73(2) Modern Law Review 175-207 (with Sally Sheldon)

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.

‘Legal Embodiment: Analysing the Body of Healthcare Law’ (2008) 16(3) Medical Law Review 321-345 (with Ruth Fletcher and Marie Fox)

‘Status and Anomaly: Re D (contact and parental responsibility: lesbian mothers and known father) [2006]’ (2008) 30(1) Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 63-73

‘Recognising Family Diversity: the ‘Boundaries’ of Re G’ (2005) 13(3) Feminist Legal Studies 323-336

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.