Seen as ‘the leading set for child law in London and probably the country’, 4 Paper Buildings ‘is a hotbed of talent from the senior end to the most junior.’ ‘The availability and calibre of counsel from the very top to the more junior end of the set are excellent.’ In the past year, its specialist family law practitioners have had several outings to the High Court, Court of Appeal, and two visits to the Supreme Court. Among the standout practitioners is Prof Jo Delahunty QC, who has been described as a 'trailblazer, a passionate advocate for the publicly-funded Bar'; she acted for six children through three guardians in four different cases involving allegations of extreme violent individual and group sexual abuse (AA & 25 Ors (Children)  EWFC 64). Cleo Perry and Barbara Mills have further strengthened the impressive team following their elevation to silk, while Charlotte Baker is highlighted as a rising star.
Children law (including public and private law) in London Bar
1 King's Bench Walk has a ‘wealth of options at all levels which makes it a ‘go-to’ set for complex children and finance cases.’ It excels in all areas of children law both private law disputes and public law (care and adoption) and is particularly ‘highly regarded in the legal world as having barristers who specialise in the complicated area of child abduction.’ The set is praised for its ‘strength in depth at all levels. Its junior barristers are keen, willing and eager to help out no matter how short the notice or how demanding the client.’ At a senior level, it has some superb individuals such as James Turner QC and Deborah Eaton QC, the latter of whom is described as being 'in a league of her own', as well as the set's top junior, Caroline Lister. Meanwhile, the respective reputations of Anna McKenna QC, a new addition to the leading silk rankings, and Charlotte Hartley, a new leading junior, continue to grow.
1GC | Family Law has ‘real specialists with a whole host of good barristers at a senior level through to the junior level who are very busy and up and coming.’ The set, which ‘at every level has star performers’, is excellent at private children work and is also recommended for its strong offering in public children work. Among its ‘outstanding stable of silks’ is Sarah Morgan QC who led Lucy Sprinz in advising Islington Council in an independent review into allegations made in the Islington Gazette that the former Mayor of Islington, Sandy Marks, had an historic association with pro-paedophile groups. New entrants to this year's rankings include Andrew Norton QC, Doushka Krish, Matthew Fletcher, and Olivia Magennis.
29 Bedford Row Chambers ‘remains one of the premier sets with a talented array of money and children specialists.’ The set is skilled in all areas of private children law, public law proceedings and in the international aspects of children law. In fact, the set ‘has achieved what few other chambers have managed which is a really strong offering on finances and on children work.’ In one recent instruction of note, Paul Storey QC – described as one of the 'star barristers in the field of child abuse claims; he is in a class of his own and his success rate is unmatched' – is acting in a complex and ongoing case where a baby sustained serious head injuries. This year, Piers Pressdee QC and Indira Ramsahoye complete their ascent of the silk and junior rankings. Christopher Butterfield is a junior to watch.
Coram Chambers is a ‘reliable set of chambers with a good range of high-quality counsel. It is a very friendly chambers with members who work as a team.’ Also, the set is lauded for its 'number of strong and effective advocates' and receives plaudits for its ‘consistent strength throughout from junior to senior level. If you have an "out of the ordinary" case, Coram is the set to go to.’ Of particular note is the ‘really understated and hugely intellectual’ Mark Twomey QC and Martha Cover who have ‘deservedly very impressive reputations.’ The 'exceedingly bright and intelligent' Alexander Laing is 'very much a rising star of the Family Bar.'
Harcourt Chambers is a ‘first-rate set of chambers with great strength in depth, a very good range of barristers at different levels of call, from hugely experienced QCs to extremely talented juniors, meaning that it will always have a barrister who fits the needs of the case.’ The set ‘has quickly risen to form a strong identity, commanding respect and oozing experience.’ Among the ‘huge pool of high calibre children barristers’ is Edward Devereux QC who in a recent highlight led the successful appeal against a first instance decision to return a child to a third state pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention. Jonathan Sampson is a new silk appointment, further strengthening chambers at the senior end, while the future of the set looks bright with impressive rising stars Dr Rob George and Edward Bennett.
42 Bedford Row is a ‘very solid set that offers expertise at all levels of counsel in respect of public law.’ It is also renowned for its growing private law practice. Key focus areas for its members include advising on disputes over children’s schooling, LGBT+ co-parenting, in addition to fertility and surrogacy matters. Tina Cook QC and Jonathan Bennett are the leading lights of the set at the senior and junior ends. The 'formidable' Marcia Hyde joins the rankings this year.
9 Gough Chambers has ‘some of the most able barristers’ in the children law arena. It is a ‘good set that is very accommodating and the barristers are very experienced in this field.’ The set's members receive praise for their public law work and also for their expertise across a broad range of complex issues from radicalisation through to sexual abuse cases. In addition, members frequently represent parents in disputes over arrangements for their children. Tim Parker is the set's foremost leading junior, followed by Esther Maclachlan, Oliver Millington, and Tara Vindis.
Fourteen has a ‘good range of highly skilled barristers.’ The chambers has an ‘outstanding depth of barristers available, even at short notice and all barristers are very experienced.’ Members are equally adept at private law and public law children matters. The set’s leading lights are Christopher Miller and Jay Banerji, while Ronan O’Donovan is another junior of note. The set has particular expertise in cases involving allegations of significant harm and where a local authority has become involved. Such cases include serious non-accidental injury cases, neglect as well as sexual and emotional abuse cases. Joan Connell and Chris Stevenson are newly ranked members.
Garden Court Chambers is a ‘well-known and well-respected set of chambers’ which 'has a very good team of barristers’ that is best known for high-quality public children work but also increasingly for specialist advice on complex private law children disputes. The combination has led to its inclusion as a leading set in these 2021 set rankings. In one case of note, Allison Munroe QC – a 2020 silk – represented a young mother with learning disabilities whose child had considerable special needs. Munroe was able to secure the mother direct ongoing contact with her child. Stephen Lue and Dinah Loeb are new names to this year's leading junior rankings.
The 36 Group ‘offers a vast range of experience by way of years and areas and has a very strong team in relation to children law.’ Its ‘three children specialist QCs give the set a presence at the highest level but what is also clear is that the QCs really support the juniors and truly have an open-door policy.’ In one complex case, William Tyler QC successfully acted for Leicester City Council in the Court of Appeal, a care proceedings case concerning a British Asian family who were detained leaving Syria and where the parents were suspected of involvement in terrorist activity. Strengthening the set are recently appointed silk Martin Kingerley QC and, at the junior end, rising star George Harley.