Practice Profile

James is a specialist children and Court of Protection practitioner.  He has appeared at all levels of tribunal up to the Court of Appeal.


James is experienced at representing all types of party to family proceedings.  He has extensive experience of representing local authorities, parents, Guardians, children and other family members within public law proceedings.  He is also highly experienced in private law and abduction proceedings.


James has been involved in complex cases throughout his career either acting as counsel on his own, acting as leading junior counsel or being led.  James regularly successfully acts for Appellants and Respondents in appeals at all levels.


James is sensitive to the stress and anxiety that all those concerned in family proceedings are likely to be feeling.  He knows how important it is to put his clients at ease.  He also knows the importance of providing robust advice to clients to ensure that they receive the best possible outcome in their circumstances.  James has completed the Inns of Court College of Advocacy Vulnerable Witness Training.


James has recently had success as a litigant in person in a claim against Iberia.  James won his claim against the airline at Mayors and City of London County Court in 2017; establishing that Iberia and many major airlines terms and conditions were unfair.


Public law


James acts in all types of public law proceedings.  He regularly acts in fact findings for local authorities, parents and children including cases involving non-accidental injuries, sexual abuse where children and vulnerable adults have made allegations, serious physical abuse of children and cases of suspected fabricated allegations.


Re S [2020] EWHC 217 (Fam)

Care proceedings stemming from a private law dispute where a mother made allegations against the fathers of her children.  Both fathers denied the mother's allegations that they had either sexually or physically harmed their children during contact. The court concluded that the fathers had not abused their children and that the mother's pursuit of her allegations of abuse had led to the emotional harm of the children. The court issued guidelines for dealing with similar cases, including: commissioning early expert assessments, mediation, early guidance and support from local authorities, these types of cases must be overseen by fully qualified social workers and their managers, not trainees.


Re B-R (2017) CA (Civ)

James successfully responded on behalf of a local authority to an appeal against an interim care order authorising the removal of a child from their mother.  McFarlane LJ confirmed the test for removal remained as set out by Thorpe LJ in Re H [2002] EWCA Civ 1932.


Re B (2017)

Appeal in respect of whether the inherent jurisdiction could be used to place a 14 year old girl in secure accommodation in Scotland.  Due a shortage of secure accommodation in England and Wales, children were being placed in Scotland.  There were no reciprocal laws to recognise English secure accommodation orders in Scotland.  The inherent jurisdiction was instead being used to place children in secure accommodation in Scotland.  This created difficulties as the Children Act 1989 prohibits a competent child from being placed outside of England and Wales without their consent.


Permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal was granted by LJ McFarlane based on James’ skeleton.  The case was withdrawn following an amendment to the Children Act 1989 contained within the Children and Social Work Act 2017.


Re P (2017)

James was led by Damian Garrido QC in complex care proceedings heard by Her Honour Judge Rowe QC sitting as a High Court judge for eight days.  The case concerned a 9 year old child whose own father was alleged to have been involved with sexual activity with his siblings as a child.  The father denied knowledge of having sexual activity with his siblings which was relevant to the validity of the opinion of an expert in the case.  Dr Butler, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, had concluded that based on the father’s participation in sexual activity with his siblings as a child he would be unable to support his daughter who exhibits sexualised behaviour.   James gathered the evidence from historic social services to prove that the father had been involved with sexual activity with his siblings 15 – 20 years earlier.  The judge made the findings sought by the local authority in respect of the historic sexual activity between the father and his siblings.


Re S (2015)

James acted on behalf of a child in an appeal against a Case Management decision in step parent adoption proceedings.  This was the second appeal within the proceedings.  The case had already gone to the Court of Appeal following the final hearing at which the adoption order was made. (The first appeal was reported as Re S (Adoption and Contact Applications: Representation of the Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 649) The appeal had been allowed because there was an appearance of bias in respect of the author of a court report that recommended the application should succeed.  The author of the adoption report worked in the same social services department as the mother.   HHJ Tolson QC had taken over the case and the father appealed his case management decision on the basis that it went against the spirit of the decision in the appeal.  James resisted the appeal unsuccessfully, however, Lord Justice Ryder in his judgment commented that James took an ‘intuitive line’ during the hearing. (S (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 1345)


Inherent jurisdiction and child abduction


James regularly appears in the High Court in cases requiring use of the inherent jurisdiction, generally in the context of child abduction although he has also appeared in cases when the inherent jurisdiction has been used in respect of medical treatment or where the Children Act 1989 is unable to provide a remedy


Re C (2017)

Ongoing abduction proceedings in the High Court with parallel care proceedings to return a child from Spain back to England.  The case required multiple disclosure orders against family members and companies to find information to track down the child.


London Borough of Redbridge v SNA [2015] EWHC 2140 (Fam)

James advised the local authority in respect of making an application under the inherent jurisdiction in attempt to prevent a man who had been found to have raped his step-daughter from having contact with other girls within the community.  The local authority pursued the application, however, James was unable to appear at the hearing because of his commitment to another case.  James has subsequently written a paper for the government on amendments that he thinks should be made to the law following the judgment in this case.


Re B (2013)

Representation of devoutly religious parents of a one a year old against Great Ormond Street Hospital.  The hospital sought a do not resuscitate order because it was medical opinion that due to the child's complex heart condition it was not in the child's best interests to be resuscitated, were the child to suffer a heart attack.  The child died after an interim order was made.


Private children proceedings


Acts for parents and children in all types of private children cases including abductions, removal of parental responsibility from a father and leave to remove from the jurisdiction.


Court of Protection


James advises and represents parties in cases before the Court of Protection.  He has a particular interest in welfare and deprivation of liberty cases.


Special Educational Needs Tribunal


James accepts cases before the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.





Bar Vocational Course, ICSL, City University    2005 - 2006

LLB, Durham University                                        2002 - 2005




Co-author of The PLO Explained (2014) Published by 9 Gough Square


Co-author with John Vater QC of Who Guards the Guards, forthcoming article accepted for publication in Family Law (2015)




Association of Lawyers for Children

Family Law Bar Association




James is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Boxing Academy in Hackney.


2 Harcourt Buildings
Dx 373 LDE
Tel 0207 353 6961


Churchill House
3 St Aldate's Courtyard,
38 St Aldate's, Oxford
Dx 96453 Oxford 4
Tel 01865 791559


0207 353 6961


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