Life as a Pupil Barrister at Becket Chambers

In the months immediately leading up to the commencement pupillage on October 2nd 2023, I attended networking & Law Society events, and Chambers’ 30th anniversary celebration. This enabled me to meet Chambers’ members prior to beginning pupillage and to form relationships with several legal professionals. I have since hit the ground running. A standout moment Continue reading

Cummings v Fawn [2023] EWHC 830 (Fam): A ‘Xydhias’ agreement, vitiating factors/non disclosure and Mostyn J commenting on clean breaks.

What an enticing cocktail!.  This may be the last case in which Mostyn J is reported to have commented on clean breaks, he having retired shortly after this case was decided.   In this case he adds to the compendium of his comments on clean breaks such as the often cited paragraph 46 of his judgement Continue reading

Financial Remedy: Law Commission’s review to examine 50-year old laws on finances after divorce and the ending of a civil partnership

The purpose of this article is to alert readers to the Law Commission’s current review of the law on finances, the ambit thereof and the terms of reference. It will be noted that the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (“the Act”) has been in existence for 50 years. On the 4th April 2023 the Law Commission Continue reading

Family Drugs and Alcohol Courts – The Annual Report for 2022/23

The Centre for Justice Innovation annual report for the Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (“FDAC”) has recently been published with a foreword from Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division. In the foreword the President describes FDAC as “a problem-solving, court-driven, approach to care proceedings”.  Statistically, FDAC families have been shown to be much Continue reading

Default Judgment and Denton revisited

FXF v 1) English Karate Federation Limited & 2) The Ishinryu Karate Association [2023] EWCA Civ 891 has provided clarification on applications for relief from sanctions in respect of setting aside default judgment. Background and Chronology  The claimant had sought damages for personal injury for alleged serious sexual abuse by her karate coach between 2008 Continue reading

Non-standard private family applications: A review of Nuffield Family Justice Observatory’s research into private law court applications made by non-parents.

The Nuffield FJO paper, ‘Uncovering Private Family Law: Exploring applications that involve non-parents’ details their research regarding the involvement of non-parents in legal proceedings related to children – they term these applications ‘Non-standard cases’. Traditionally, private family law has predominantly been focussed on disputes between parents, however as societal dynamics have changed the inclusion of Continue reading

A brief analysis of using Section 20 accommodation as a long-term measure: judicial clarity arising in Re S (A Child) and Re W (A Child) (s 20 Accommodation) [2023] EWCA Civ 1

“Section 20 accommodation” is a term used in care proceedings which describes a voluntary arrangement between parents and a local authority, whereby the parents give consent for their child to be accommodated by the local authority. This is pursuant to Section 20(1) of the Children Act 1989, which expressly states that local authorities indeed have Continue reading

Pupillage at Becket Chambers

As part of an ever-growing set of Chambers in Kent looking recruit the best and brightest of barristers, Sophie Gray and Fiona Brown give an insight in to the pupillage process at Becket Chambers. Sophie: My own career at Becket Chambers began in 2013 when I joined as a pupil. Over the years, whilst my Continue reading

Guidance on unregulated psychologists instructed as experts Re C (‘Parental Alienation’; Instruction of Expert) [2023] EWHC 345

Practitioners are well aware that early identification of parental alienation is crucial. The longer alienating behaviour goes undetected, the further entrenched a child may become, impacting the relationship with either or both of their parents. Often a finding of alienation is determined on the strength of the factual evidence provided to the court with the Continue reading

Update to Part 3A and Practice Direction 3AA of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 and section 63 Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

This is an update to an article I published on Becket Chambers’ website in April 2022 entitled “Participation Directions in Family Proceedings, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and sexually explicit material.” This article examines how Part 3A and Practice Direction 3AA of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (“FPR”) and section 63 Domestic Abuse Act 2021 Continue reading

The Thwaite Jurisdiction: The Power to Vary Orders Not Yet Fully Executed & Possible Limits on Varying a Lump Sum by Instalments

The primary purpose of this article is to draw attention to a very useful jurisdiction to vary financial remedy orders that is very rarely referred to, and used even less, but also, to refer cautiously to some obiter comments suggesting, against the general flow of judicial pronouncements, that it may provide only very limited remedies Continue reading

Court of Appeal judgment concludes that voluntary accommodation under section 20 can be a long-term measure.

The recent judgment in the case of Re S (a child) and Re W (a child) [2023] EWCA Civ 1 has changed the way that local authorities can use the provisions for voluntarily accommodating children under s.20 (Children Act 1989).  The judgment considers two appeals against the Orders of two local Judges, HHJ Coffey in Continue reading

Is it time to consider mediation?

Litigation comes with its share of  risks and uncertainties, which can cause clients to question the amount of time it will take for their issues to be resolved as well as the associated cost. The COVID 19 has forced many organisations and institutions to rapidly change over night – including courts who are now tackling Continue reading


How often do we really stop, and I mean really stop….. and look at things ‘through the eyes of a child’. We use all the cliche phrases over and over again, all coming from I suggest perhaps a paternalistic and protecting stance.  We all know that the welfare of the child is paramount. When completing Continue reading

Civil Mediation

Many parties express an initial reluctance to engage in mediation as they think that mediation won’t be able to solve particular types of “personal” disputes, for example, probate claims where a dispute has arisen within a family about a Will or boundary disputes where neighbours are arguing about whether a fence or hedge is in Continue reading

Spousal applications for reasonable financial provision under section 1 (1) (a) of the Inheritance Act 1975: Law and procedure and the judgment of Mr Justice Peel in Kaur v Estate of Karnail Singh & Ors [2023] EWHC 304 (Fam)

It was, Mr Justice Peel concluded, “the clearest possible case” for reasonable financial provision from a deceased’s estate under section 1 (1) (a) of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (IA 1975). Although an undefended Part 8 claim determined summarily (albeit a decision which caused “careful and anxious consideration” on the part Continue reading

Case Law Update

Re S (Children: Party Status) [2022] EWCA Civ 1717 (per Peter Jackson, LJ) This appeal concerned whether the refusal of an application by the Appellant to become a party to care proceedings was wrong. The appeal was allowed. Relevant law on joining a party to care proceedings as set out by Jackson LJ: Family Proceedings Continue reading

Should the findings made in family courts be accessible to safeguarding agencies?

This article considers whether there would be a benefit to findings of fact made in public law family proceedings being centrally recorded and accessible to safeguarding professionals. Where the facts of a case are in dispute in family proceedings, the court may hold a fact-finding hearing to determine the factual matrix.  The findings made usually Continue reading

Re: HH (A Child: Stay of Order pending Appeal) [2022] EWHC 3369 (Fam). Factors to be taken into consideration when determining an application for a stay of implementation of a trial court’s decision pending the determination of an appeal.

This article provides an overview of a judgment handed down by Mostyn J on 23 December 2022 regarding whether a contact order made in private law family proceedings should be stayed pending an appeal against findings of fact.  The judgment sets out the key principles to be taken into account when an application for a Continue reading

Self -harming and Apocalyptic Litigation in the Family Courts: Xanthopoulos v Rakshina [2022] EWFC 30

Readers are referred to the article by  Melanie McIntosh “Financial Remedy: Snapshot Eclectic Update” drawing attention to the Statement on the Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Proceedings given The Hon. Mr. Justice Mostyn has again expressed exasperation due to the “utter disregard”  for guidance, procedure and orders in the family courts roundly critising the case Continue reading

A Quick Guide to Proprietary Freezing Injunctions

What do they do? It is an injunction which prevents a defendant from dealing with particular assets over which the claimant asserts a proprietary right pending trial. Is a proprietary freezing injunction different to a freezing injunction? Yes. A freezing injunction prevents a defendant from dealing with his own assets. A proprietary freezing injunction prevents Continue reading

Becket Chambers End Of Year Review

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… Legal life post-covid has been challenging. Becket Chambers was fortunate at the start of the pandemic (when I was chairman of the management committee). We were already an agile chambers with good virtual facilities. Years followed of virtual meetings, telephone and video hearings, Continue reading

Mother v Father [2022] EWHC 3107 (Fam): I was not allowed to give evidence or cross-examine in family court: can I appeal?

This article provides an overview of the court’s powers in limiting evidence heard during family court proceedings. I will be examining some key lessons on this topic as heard in the recent case of Mother v Father [2022] EWHC 3107 (Fam). Giving evidence at a hearing concerned with your child or children may feel like Continue reading

Applying for pupillage at Becket Chambers.

With the opening of the 2023 pupillage gateway upon us, this article is intended to provide an insight in to pupillage at Becket Chambers.  The article will focus on the structure of pupillage at Becket Chambers, and will also cover what Becket looks for when considering applications.  I am the current pupil and I am Continue reading