The idea for this book began as a workshop supported by the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub with funds from the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO), the University of Regensburg and Cambridge Family Law.
The workshop was held at the University of Cambridge/Gonville and Caius College on 21 – 22 July 2016, jointly organised by the editors of this book. The workshop was attended not only by academics from Australia, Germany, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain and Italy, but also by representatives of the Law Commission of England and Wales, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (Berlin), the German Institute for Human Rights (Berlin) and the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties (Malta). While the focus was on legal developments and regulation, there also were contributions from theology, medicine and psychology. There was an intense and productive interdisciplinary and interjurisdictional debate over the two days, and much of this is now reflected in this book. After the workshop, and indeed as a result of it, the research project leading to this book was started, and many additional chapters were commissioned in order to present an even broader discussion of the issues.
However, all major research projects face difficulties of varying kinds, and this one certainly was no exception. Several people who had promised to participate dropped out or failed to deliver. Houses were flooded, illnesses overcome, jobs changed, and children born during the period it took to put this book together. But in the end things came together, and we are pleased with the outcome and the broad range of contributions. We truly hope that this book will contribute to the national and international debates and lead to a focus on the autonomy of the people concerned.
We also are very grateful to many institutions and persons supporting the research project and publication of the book: the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich for supporting the significant editorial work that needed to be undertaken, and which was handled expertly by Intersentia Publishing; Dafni Lima for her help with the initial editorial work; the Gonville and Caius Conference Office, and particularly Laura Webb, for ensuring that the workshop could take place in such a pleasant and well-organised environment; Ingrid Hobbis of the Cambridge Research Hub for her administrative support; Prof.