Public Law Children

On this page you will find the following, specifically related to Public Law Children;
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Our Barristers have extensive experience of acting on behalf of parents, children, relatives, guardians and local authorities in care, placement and adoption proceedings; and our expertise includes local authority duties, wardship and use of the inherent jurisdiction.

We have specialists in areas including the most severe cases of physical and sexual abuse, and in dealing with complex medical issues including rare genetic disorders, brain injury and mental health and addiction.

Our team provides representation and advice in all areas of public law, and accepts instructions from all parties to care proceedings.

Members of Chambers frequently appear in cases involving complex facts or legal argument at all levels of court. We are often instructed in lengthy fact-finding hearings or final hearings.

Our expertise:

  • Domestic violence
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Fabricated and/or induced illness
  • Neglect
  • Parents and/or children with disabilities
  • Parents with significant learning difficulties
  • Serious non-accidental injury
  • Sexual abuse and child prostitution

Our Barristers who specialise in dealing with these areas are also experienced in working with clients who require an interpreter or need particular support to help them through the legal process, and several are particularly well regarded for their ability to represent those whose circumstances have rendered them vulnerable or fearful of engagement with the legal system.

Case Studies

Representing mother in care case

Marie represents the mother in a case where the local authority sought to remove her 3 young children from her care and for them to stay with family. They have concerns about domestic abuse, drugs, and alcohol use. The court was persuaded that separation was not necessary and the children remain with the mother whilst Continue reading

Acting for Father in Public Law Proceedings

Disclosures by A that her older brother, B, had been having sex with her for 5 years. B admits but says sex consensual. A says B threatened her with a knife. B removed from family home and placed with a relative but then returned home temporarily before moving to another family placement. This placement also Continue reading

Acting for Mother in Respect of New Born Baby

Care proceedings in respect of new born baby. Concerns included M’s mental health, threats of harm to herself and unborn child whilst pregnant, history of abusing drugs and alcohol and parents’ abusive relationship. Child exposed to alcohol in utero and made subject to Child Protection Plan. M discharged herself from hospital when pregnant against advice Continue reading

Representing Mother in Care Proceedings

Care proceedings were issued in respect of one child following the birth because of concerns around unhygienic home conditions, domestic abuse between the parents, mother’s mental health and inability to meet her own needs and those of the child. ICO was made at the first hearing with a care plan for a parent and child Continue reading

Public Law Children Articles

Special Measures and vulnerable litigants

The importance of ensuring vulnerable litigants and witnesses are protected by special measures and participation directions when they give evidence in family proceedings The vital importance of this was highlighted in this case, reported in FLW (reproduced below), in which the High Court allowed an appeal against a fact-finding hearing, which ordinarily requires a very Continue reading

Interview with Elaine Mitchell

Welcome Elaine, thanks for agreeing to discuss the impact of the Pandemic with me! As  a highly experienced Cafcass Officer and Guardian I thought you would be in a great position to help us understand the changes Covid has wrought on your work and from your perspective on the family courts.   Thanks Mel, I’m Continue reading


In the recently reported case of T & R (Children)(Refusal of Placement Order) [2021] EWCA Civ 71, the Court of Appeal had to determine an appeal made by a local authority and guardian against the refusal of the trial judge to make placement orders in respect of two young children. The case is of particular Continue reading


S-F (A Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 964 (Leading judgment given by Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President) I was recently very helpfully reminded of this 2017 case which is perhaps not too well-known as it raises no new issues of law or principal and the issue on appeal was described as ‘clear and simple’— was the Continue reading

GROUND RULES – Vulnerable witnesses

We have a new Practice Direction 3AA which covers participation in proceedings for vulnerable person who will be required to give evidence, which is effective from February 2021 BRIEF SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT POINTS It is essential to seek a Ground Rules Hearing as early as possible in the proceedings. It is important to raise this Continue reading

Case Study N (Children: Interim Order/Stay [2020] EWCA Civ 1070

Case Study N (Children: Interim Order/Stay [2020] EWCA Civ 1070 Decision of Lord Justice Peter Jackson. A helpful reminder of some basic principles _______________________________________________________________________________________ This successful appeal by the mother was dealt with on 29 July 2020 during the current COVID 19 restrictions. The facts are not as important as the principles which were dealt Continue reading

New Guidance for Special Guardianship Orders

In June 2020 the Family Justice Council (“FJC”) published its report on how to achieve best practice with respect to special guardianship orders. The report arrives in a climate where in recent years, family courts have made more special guardianship orders than placement orders and the proportion of special guardianship order has risen whilst the Continue reading

Interim Separation During Proceedings

C (A Child) (Interim Separation) [2019] EWCA Civ 1998 (Judgement of Lord Justice, Peter Jackson) _______________________________________________________________________________________ We have all experienced cases, especially when representing a young mother who has been placed with the child, often a first child and a baby, in a mother and baby foster placement and that placement has broken down for Continue reading

‘Neglect in childhood causes children to have smaller brains’

Early childhood deprivation through neglect and adversity is associated with alterations in the brain structure as adults, despite environmental enrichment in intervening years, according to an article published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) on 7.1.2020. The research, carried out by King’s College London, examined the MRI data Continue reading

Re F (A Child) (Fact-Finding Appeal) – Unexplained Injuries: Less a case of “Who did what?” and more a case of ” Did anyone do anything?”

In May 2019, the Court of Appeal considered an appeal by the father of a 6 month old child F, against a finding that he inflicted harm upon the child. The child presented with petechial haemorrhaging of a pattern that the experts had never encountered before, and which they could not explain. The case gives Continue reading

A Reminder of the Need to Robustly Stand Up to Judical Pressure and the Important Distinction Between Sections 31 & 38 of the Children Act 1989

Re G (Children: Fair Hearing). [2019] EWCA Civ 126 On the first of these two issues this was a procedural appeal against interim care orders by a mother who stated that she was subjected to improper judicial pressure that led to orders being granted without opposition by her. The appeal was heard by Lord Justice Continue reading

Are Children Safe in Local Authority Care?

A Parliamentary inquiry started in February 2019, into the growing trend of local authorities to “farm out” vulnerable youngsters to care & foster homes far from their birth families, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, just as a group of parents planned legal action to ensure their children are housed in residential care homes close to Continue reading

Public Law Update – November 2018

CHILDREN & SOCIAL WORK ACT 2017 This Act received Royal Assent on 27.04.17 and, although most of it is not yet in force (except section 10 and Schedule 1, which deals with placement in secure accommodation outside England and Wales) Chapter 1, section 1 of the Act is a helpful reminder of the following “corporate Continue reading

Crisis in Family Justice?

Is the family justice system in crisis? Yes says Sir Andrew McFarlane, the new president of the Family Division of the High Court, who took over that role in July 2018. Sir Andrew was speaking at the launch of a Care Crisis review, an independent study by senior lawyers, social workers, charities & academics into Continue reading

Parents with learning difficulties – further guidance in a recent reported case dealing with the limits the courts will go to in applying Re D principles.

The President has issued further guidance on cases involving parents with learning difficulties: President’s Guidance Family Proceedings: Parents with a Learning Disability, 10th April 2018: He refers to the leading cases: Re D (A Child) (No 3) (2016) EWFC 1: and Re Guardian and A (Care Order: Freeing Order: Parents with a Learning Disability) Continue reading

Hair Strand Drug Testing Seminar 2018

We are please to announce that Kevin Jackson and Sandria Murkin will be presenting a Seminar in Canterbury. This seminar covers a range of topics involving hair strand drug testing within Family Children Act Proceedings. Venue: Canterbury Innovation Centre, University Road, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7FG – 26 April 2018 at 3.45pm Places are limited and should be booked early to Continue reading

Has adoption become a runaway train?

The 2018 report of the British Association of Social Workers’s (BASW) into adoption law According to an independent enquiry into adoption law in the UK by the British Association of Social Workers’s (BASW), adoption has become a “runaway train,” almost impossible to stop. The two-year enquiry, led by Professors Brid Featherstone and Anna Gupta, gathered Continue reading

Re H (A Child- Hair Strand Testing) [2017] EWFC 64 – Mr. Justice Peter Jackson

A distillation of the key points from this important guideline case concerning hair strand drug testing. On 29th September 2017 after 6 days of evidence, legal argument and submissions Mr. Justice Peter Jackson handed down a Judgment that looked at several key issues that are relevant to practitioners in public and private law family proceedings Continue reading

Re W (A Child)[2016] EWCA Civ 793

This case concerns a successful appeal by prospective adopters against a decision to refuse an adoption order and grant an SGO to paternal grandparents and is of interest as the appeal raised the following issues: The approach to be taken in determining a child’s long-term welfare once the child has become settled in a prospective Continue reading

RELOCATION and the impact of Re C (Internal Relocation) [2015] EWCA Civ 1305

This case has afforded an important decision as well as being an excellent opportunity to review and consider the principles to be applied in cases of relocation and the different approaches to internal relocation and international relocation cases. This was carried out by Lady Justice Black in her judgment which carefully reviews all the authorities Continue reading

Voluntary accommodation of children under s.20 Children Act 1989: a withering analysis of Local Authority practice

In today’s judgment of Re N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction) [2015] EWCA Civ 1112 the President of the Family Division has an important message for family practitioners but, particularly, for local authorities. From paragraphs 157 to 171 he provided a tour de force of the problems with s.20 and the best practice that should be followed. Continue reading

Public Law Children Testimonials

Mr. Worwood was recently instructed by myself and I was extremely satisfied with the service that my Client and I received. Mr. Worwood was extremely helpful and available to discuss matters. I couldn’t recommend him highly enough.

Solicitors Instructing Allen Worwood in Care Proceedings – May 2022

I can confirm that I was extremely pleased with the service of your Chambers and the representation of my Client by Ms Crawford.


Ms. Crawford’s communication was impeccable and I know it is a phrase employed by retail companies who ask for feed back these days, but Ms Crawford certainly did “go beyond” in her representation of my Client at both Hearings.


I would not hesitate to instruct Ms. Crawford again or arrange Counsel through your Chambers.

Solicitors instructing Marie Crawford for Public Law Proceedings – April 2022

Thank you for your determined and passionate representation of this vulnerable client and not an easy brief to pick up mid way through a trial!

I think she feels like we have all done everything we can for her and have looked after her with the human touch she didn’t feel was there previously.

It may mean little coming from me and we’ve never met but I’ve been very impressed with the detailed knowledge of the case you’ve amassed in such little time, and with everything you have done from the start, and our firm will certainly look to instruct you again.

Solicitors Instructing Sandria Murkin for Public Care Proceedings – December 2021

You have worked so very hard on the case – above and beyond as always – a huge thankyou

Solicitors Instructing Sandria Murkin for Public Care Proceedings – December 2021

Mike is excellent, as always.

Very prompt at dealing with everything and I appreciate that he stepped in late at night at very short notice due the court changing the date of the hearing.


Solicitors instructing Mike Batt in Care Proceedings – November 2021

“Thank you so much for all the hours put in to this case and for keeping in touch with the client and supporting her. Really very much appreciated.”

Ms S from Solicitors Instructing Sandria Murkin – January 21

“Clive was great, took the bull by the horns and dealt with the matter with autonomy.”

Mr M from Solicitors Instructing Clive Styles – November 20

“Everything has been brilliant. Louisa has been very quick and clear coming back to me. You have also been a star.Thank you!”

Miss R from Solicitors instructing Louisa Adamson – June 19

“Louisa was great thank you, very helpful before the hearing and I received a very detailed attendance note that afternoon which is always appreciated.”

Miss S from solicitors instructing Louisa Adamson – May 19

“Both yourself and counsel have been very helpful. The service received has been very efficient”

Mrs W from solicitors instructing Michael Batt – May 19

“Mr Batt was as ever helpful and efficient. It is very helpful to receive prompt feedback from counsel after a hearing which I can always rely on Mr. Batt to provide.”

Miss W from Solicitors instructing Mike Batt – March 19

“Thank you very much for these and for representing Mr C throughout this matter. He is delighted with the outcome.”


Ms T from Solicitors Instructing Clive Styles – July 18

“I Thought Gayle Ashley was wonderful….Gayle was very informative and professional in representing me on the final day. I would highly recommend her.”

Mr B instructing Gayle Ashley through Solicitors – June 18

“Thank you v much indeed Marie for stepping in on this one and for being kind and caring and compassionate.”

Ms S from Solicitors Instructing Marie Crawford – September 17

“Counsel was, as usual, fully available to us throughout the duration of the case, by telephone and email.  He explained everything clearly to a client, who had considerable difficulties, and obtained instructions from a client, who might have been perceived by others to have an ambivalent approach to the proceedings due to his difficulties.  He reported promptly by telephone post each hearing and provided detailed attendance notes.  He was fully committed throughout to securing the best outcome for the client possible.  Even other parties in the case commented on the level of legal representation that father received.

I have of course used Counsel in a number of cases and have always been extremely pleased with the level of representation and care provided by him to his professional and lay client.”

Ms C from Solicitors Instructing Michael Batt – August 17

“Thank you for being empathetic and understanding the stress of the Court process and doing an excellent job”

Ms M Instructing Sophie Gray through Solicitors – July 2017

“Thank you for all your efforts over the last few weeks, on behalf of my family.

Your support gave us the confidence to follow this through.”


Ms L Instructing Kevin Jackson through Solicitors – July 2017

“…The client has just asked me to relay her sincere gratitude to Mike Batt for everything that he has done today & told me that he was wonderful…”

Miss M from Solicitors instructing Mike Batt – June 16

“Please will you thank Sandria for another excellent job.”

Mrs S from firm of Solicitors instructing Sandria Murkin – March 16

“I do believe ( as result of this case)  and  have confidence that only you can the win the “un- winnable cases”  and that if you can’t then no one can. You have really instilled confidence in me about your capabilities.”

Ms K from Solicitors instructing Philip Newton – February 16

“Firstly may I say I have been meaning  to send you an email for a while and just have not had a chance to say how impressed I was in how you manged to exclude the evidence which was not something any other Counsel representing Mother managed to do.”

Ms K from Solicitors Instructing Philip Newton – January 16

“….the client has spoken very highly of him saying he’s never come across someone of “such high calibre” in his life before and he thinks Mike is “brilliant” that he listened and dealt with his difficult ex very well”

Ms K from Instructing Solicitors instructing Michael Batt – December 15