Karl Rowley QC

Call: 1994 / Silk: 2013

"He's an exceptional barrister."
Chambers UK Bar

Karl is a specialist in the law relating to children. He represents parents, children and local authorities in public law proceedings, having appeared at all levels of court. He is a very experienced appellate lawyer, appearing in the Court of Appeal several times each year.

A full list of his reported cases can be found here.

To instruct Karl or for more information…

Call: 020 7353 6961
Email: clerks@harcourtchambers.co.uk

Practice Areas

Karl has a particular interest in complex medical cases, including those involving death and serious injury. He has wide experience of defending parents against accusations of such alleged abuse which, ultimately, the court finds not to be proved. In addition, he has been involved in numerous cases of alleged radicalisation.

Karl has appeared in a number of reported cases in this area.

Notable Public Law Children cases

Re A (Children) (Remote Hearing: Care & Placement Orders) [2020] EWCA Civ 583

Succeeded for appellant father in a case which gave guidance as to the approach of courts hearing cases during the viral pandemic.

Re T (Jurisdiction: BIIR: Cyprus) [2020] EWFC 37

Successfully argued that a person could not retain habitual residence in a country which they had left under a deportation order and to which they could not lawfully return.

Re AA (Children) & 25 others [2019] EWFC 64

Karl led 2 counsel for the lead local authority in the largest public law family case that has been litigated.

Re C (A Child) [2019] EWCA CIV 1777

Appeared for the appellant in the Court of Appeal and was successful in arguing that the first instance decision should be overturned.

A Local Authority v (1) A Mother (2) A Father (3) A, B, C, D & E (by their Children's Guardian) [2018] EWHC 1841 (Fam)

Appeared for father accused of holding radical views; local authority withdrew proceedings part way into hearing.

Re M (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 607

Appeal in high-profile case representing a mother seeking the admission of fresh evidence not sanctioned by the court.

M v (1) St Helens Borough Council (2) F (3) C (A Child) [2018] EWFC 1

Appeared for the mother in reopened proceedings where an infant had suffered 26 fractures.

Re T (A Child: Adoption or Special Guardianship) sub nom T (A Child by his Guardian) v Wirral Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 1797

Represented child in finely-balanced adoption/SGO case where different orders had been made in respect of siblings in the same placement.

Re H-C (Finding of Fact: Rehearing) [2016] EWFC 48

Rehearing of case following Court of Appeal overturning findings against client. Local authority failed to establish case at retrial of smothering and other alleged injury against him.

Re Z (A Child: Egyptian fostering & UK adoption) [2016] EWFC 48

Represented child fostered abroad and brought to UK. Carer applied to adopt here; Egypt sought child’s return. Child adopted.

Re K (Children) [2016] EWHC 1606 (Fam)

Representing a mother accused of support for ISIS: local authority withdrew its application for care orders as no evidence of radicalisation of children.

Re Y (Children) (No 3) [2016] EWHC 503 (Fam)

Appeared for a mother accused of attempting to take her children to Syria; President of Family Division did not make the finding sought by the local authority and the applications were dismissed.

Re H-C (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 136

Acted for the appellants in the Court of Appeal. The Court overturned a finding of fact that a person caused a child’s death and went on to give guidance as to the use of a finding of a lie in family cases.

Wigan Borough Council v Fisher & Ors (Rev 1) [2015] EWFC 34 (21 April 2015)

A fact finding hearing in respect of the death of a baby who had been shaken.

Wigan BC v M & Others (Veracity Assessments) [2015] EWFC 8 (06 February 2015)

The use of veracity assessments in cases where children have been ABE interviewed.

Wigan Council v M & Ors (Sexual Abuse: Fact-Finding) [2015] EWFC 6 (30 January 2015)

A fact finding hearing in respect of exceptionally serious step father and inter sibling sexual abuse.

In the matter of X (Children) (No 3) [2015] EWHC 3651 (Fam)

Appearing for a mother accused of attempting to take her children to Syria; the President of the Family Division did not make the central findings sought and the care proceedings were dismissed.

Re K-L (Children) [2015] EWCA Civ 992

Appeal by mother following a fact-finding hearing to determine allegations against the father. The appeal concerned difficulties including (i) the question as to which effective decision was under appeal and (ii) that there was no order giving effect to the judgment that the mother wished to challenge. Represented mother: appeal succeeded.

Re X (Children) & Y (Children) (Emergency Protection Orders) [2015] EWHC 2265 (Fam)

Interim return of children to parents who were suspected of attempting to travel to Syria with them.

Re P (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 777

Bar to permission under s.47(5) not higher where proposed adopters were child’s foster carers, but the court had to weigh not only the effect of ceasing to be a member of his birth family on the child but also the value of a relevant relationship continuing.

In private law proceedings Karl’s practice includes representing high net worth individuals in dispute with former partners as to where a child lives and whom the child should see (including such cases with an international element) as well as their religious upbringing and education.


What the directories say

"Highly regarded on the children side."
Chambers UK Bar 2019

"A talented silk with a keen eye for the details in a case."
The Legal 500 UK Bar 2019

"A children law specialist who has a wealth of experience advising on private and public cases. His areas of expertise include international adoptions and child death."

"I wouldn’t hesitate instructing him on children matters." "For children, he is just out of this planet. He is so impressive."
Chambers UK Bar 2018

"He has a rigorous intellect."
The Legal 500 UK Bar 2017

"He is thorough and has a calm court manner." "He finds unusual arguments and angles to cases and uses them very skilfully."
Chambers UK Bar 2017

Related News

Karl Rowley QC has been shortlisted for Family Law QC of the Year

We are delighted to announce that Karl Rowley QC has been shortlisted for ‘Family Law QC of the Year’ at the Family Law Awards 2019.

Harcourt Chambers are delighted to welcome Karl Rowley QC as a door tenant

We are delighted to welcome Karl Rowley QC from St John’s Buildings, Manchester as a door tenant at Harcourt Chambers.

Karl’s practice covers public and private children cases, wardship, public…


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