Head of Children Team
Call 1999 (MiddleTemple)
Qualifications BA Hons. (Oxon); LLM (University of East Anglia). Formerly: lecturer in family and property law 1993 – 1998.
Professional Memberships Association of Lawyers for Children, Family Law Bar Association, Western Circuit, Bar Pro Bono Unit Family Law Panel.
Abigail practises in all Children Act and other children matters, with a particular emphasis on care and placement proceedings where she represents parents, children and local authorities. She has experience in a wide range of cases, including those involving allegations of inflicted injury and serious sexual abuse.
- Representing the father in a 2 week fact-finding hearing concerning alleged shaking/shaking plus impact injury to a baby. The child was rehabilitated to the parents following a successful Resolutions assessment.
- Representing the child in a fact-finding hearing where it was alleged that either the mother or the father had poisoned the child (all other parties were represented by leading counsel).
- Representing the mother in a fact-finding hearing where her daughter suffered from genital warts and was thought to have been sexually abused (the case involved five medical experts and several alleged perpetrators).
- Representing the mother in proceedings where her teenage daughter made allegations of sexual abuse against the step-father, and in which the teenage child complainant gave evidence. The allegations were not upheld.
- Representing the local authority in a High Court case involving allegations of historic sexual abuse, international trafficking and illegal adoption. The 3 week case involved complex factual and international legal issues.
- Representing the mother in a fact-finding hearing in which it was alleged that the mother had inflicted bruising and other injury to her 4 year old child; and at the subsequent welfare hearing in which the Judge dismissed the local authority’s application for a care order. The child was rehabilitated to the mother.
Abigail is very familiar with the issues arising when representing ‘competent’ children directly, and with cases where children give evidence. In addition, she has considerable experience of representing vulnerable parties with the assistance of an intermediary and/or through the Official Solicitor.
Abigail also undertakes complex private law work such as high conflict residence disputes, ’intractable contact’ cases, and applications for leave to remove from the jurisdiction.
- “Very experienced in multi-handed public law cases.” Legal 500, Family and children law (2017)
- “Experienced in complex care cases involving non-accidental injury.” Legal 500, Family and Children Law (2016)
- “Abigail is skilled at managing the most difficult of clients.” Legal 500, Family and children law (2015)
Abigail has an expanding Court of Protection practice in which she represents parties in health and personal welfare cases and into which she transfers some of the skills and experience she has acquired in representing learning disabled adults in care proceedings. She is typically instructed in cases involving best interests decision-making in the context of disputes surrounding the care of very elderly patients.
Those instructing Abigail in Court of Protection matters have commented:
- “an excellent advocate, able to ascertain the pertinent issues of the case and its ancillary issues despite receiving instructions at short notice.”
- “advised our client department in a straightforward and non condescending manner.”
Abigail has specialised in Family Law for over 20 years, having taught Family Law at undergraduate and postgraduate level before coming to the Bar. As a barrister, she practises in all aspects of the law relating to children and has considerable experience of care proceedings in which she represents parents, children and local authorities. She also handles Court of Protection work. She is the author of several articles on Family Law matters and of the well-received “Care Proceedings and Learning Disabled Parents” (Jordans, 2014). In appropriate cases Abigail will undertake family work via direct public access.
She is a member of the Bar Pro Bono Unit Family Law Panel.