Kathryn Skellorn QC

Kathryn Skellorn

Call 1993 (Gray’s Inn) QC 2014
Qualifications MA Hons Jurisprudence, (Oxford University) Inns of Court School of Law 1993 (Gray’s Inn Junior Scholar)
Professional Memberships Family Law Bar Association


Public Law  

Kathryn’s work often arises from allegations of homicide or serious inflicted injury. Her recent caseload has included fatal and non-fatal brain/spinal/ophthalmic trauma, single and multiple site fractures, burns, poisoning, whipping, torture and ritual abuse. She is highly experienced in issues of child sex abuse, serial intergenerational abuse, institutional abuse and abusive imaging.

Kathryn is adept at the rapid assimilation of lay, police and clinical evidence. Early management of evidence and case strategy are key and Kathryn analyses medico-legal issues across a full range of expert disciplines and provides comprehensive advice, written and trial advocacy. Advice is always focused on potential outcomes and looks ahead to next stage risk assessment, intervention and welfare planning.

Already experienced in working with junior counsel, Kathryn is equally content to advise and appear alone; a service of value to Local Authorities in the conduct of their very complex care cases. Kathryn regularly advises on preliminary issues of disclosure, assertions of public interest immunity and applications for non-disclosure.

Kathryn’s public law practice embraces a wide variety of international elements including immigration/asylum status, abduction, organized trafficking and proposed international placement.

A number of Kathryn’s recent cases have centred upon public policy issues; the true definition of significant harm for the purposes of the statutory threshold criteria and the proper delineation of the state’s interference in the family life of children and their parents.

Private Law

Kathryn aims to bring a robust but personable approach to private law work and she is widely instructed by private client departments across the South West and beyond.

Kathryn’s practice in this sphere frequently features domestic violence or an international element and she is experienced in cases featuring concurrent criminal proceedings, forced marriage, so called ‘honour based violence’ as well as applications for permission to remove children temporarily and permanently from the jurisdiction and child cases engaging Brussels IIR.

In addition to numerous European states, Kathryn’s recent cases of abduction, permanent and temporary relocation have involved the following jurisdictions: USA, Australia, Qatar, Dubai, Pakistan, Canada, Malaysia, and Northern Cyprus.

Recent reported cases

  • H-B (Contact), Re [2015] EWCA Civ 389
  • Q (Children) [2014] EWCA Civ 918
  • K (A Child) [2014] EWCC B67
  • Torbay Council v A Mother & Ors Re JG [2014] EWHC 479
  • K (Children), Re [2012] EWCA Civ 1549

Instructed to appear in re-hearings ordered by the Court of Appeal after the following:

  • C, D & E (Children), Re [2015] EWFC 92 (22 May 2015)
  • C (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 374 (14 April 2016)
  • Re W (A Child); Re H (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 1177
  • K (Children) [2014] EWCA Civ 1195

Recent Instructions

  • Re K [2012] EWCA Civ 1549 – Care – SGO – Court of Appeal consideration – proper use of s.37 direction;
  • Care – one parent killed by the other – international interim placement – retention of jurisdiction and appropriate orders;
  • Care – multiple fractures  – perinatal trauma – potential obstetric injury – potential genetic conditions;
  • Care – bilateral tibial fractures – bilateral burns – causation – delineation of pool of perpetrators;
  • Supervision/special guardianship – manslaughter – uxoricide – contested issues of contact to father, s.91(14) and injunctive relief;
  • Care -international child abduction – human rights -immigration;
  • Care – psychological disorder – paternity issues -disclosure of expert reports from a parallel civil suit;
  • Care – subdural haemorrhages – new evidence – reopening findings – multiple experts;
  • Care – skull fracture and bruising to baby – complex capacity issues – s.38(6);
  • Care – multiple rib fractures and bruising to baby -disputed brain injury;
  • Care – multiple injuries and skull fracture to baby -psychiatric disorder;
  • Care – bruising and pelvic fractures to an infant -proper expert instruction;
  • Care – sexual abuse and neglect – inadequate disclosure – ABE issues;
  • Care – abusive imaging – sibling abuse – inadequate care planning- adjournment of final order;
  • Care/supervision – international abduction in breach of Wardship – psychological disorder – designated Local Authority – private law orders – injunctive relief;
  • Care – issues of parenting within roma culture -specialist assessment;
  • Care – chronic neglect – inadequate care of premature baby – contested removal;
  • Care – parenting impaired by disability – drug misuse -domestic violence – contested removal;
  • Contact – non-disclosure – ‘honour-based violence’ and cultural issues;
  • Suspended residence order – intractable contact dispute- discharge of order;
  • Residence – disabled child – psychological evidence – allegations of perjury and fabricated evidence causing unnecessary medical intervention to child;

Practice Overview

Kathryn took silk in 2014 after twenty years as a specialist Children Act practitioner dealing with complex care work and contentious private law matters. Kathryn works across a full spectrum of cases in the Family Court, Higher Courts and the Court of Protection.

Kathryn has special interest in cases involving physical and learning disabilities and has particular experience in care work involving profound and partial hearing impairment, including the appropriate use of BSL interpretation within a trial setting.   Her caseload encompasses issues of parenting impaired by addictive, psychological and psychiatric disorders, including Somatisation Disorder and Fabricated and Induced Illness.

Kathryn has experience in trials involving children with capacity, adults without capacity, child perpetrators and child/vulnerable witnesses and has significant experience in cases involving witness intermediaries and interpreters.

A regular speaker at seminars over the years, Kathryn has provided lecture services for the judiciary, local and national FLBA, Resolution, Interdisciplinary Domestic Violence collaborations as well as individual firms of solicitors and local schools.

Kathryn has been shortlisted for “Silk of the Year” within the Legal 500 UK Regional/Scottish Awards 2018.


  • “She is just the full package: she is exceptionally bright, she has a very good demeanour with clients, and her advocacy is very persuasive.” “Her forensic approach to cases is seriously impressive.” Chambers UK, Family/Matrimonial (2018)
  • “Clients are in awe of her.” Legal 500, Family and children law (2017)
  • “Kathryn specialises in handling complicated children work in both a public and private context. Her cases frequently concern highly sensitive and difficult issues, as well as complex medical elements. A number of them concern brain trauma, torture, sexual abuse and child death. She also regularly handles disputes regarding surrogacy and same-sex parenthood. ‘Very forensic and eloquent in court.’ ‘Tenacious, thorough and impressive’.” Chambers UK, Family/Matrimonial (2017)
  • “A master of her brief; her preparation is unmatched and she has an almost intimidating grasp of the law.” Legal 500, Family and children law (2016)
  • “Kathryn is a fabulous advocate and has the ear of the court.” Legal 500, Family and children law (2015)
  • “Kathryn has excellent knowledge of medico-legal issues” Legal 500, Family and children law (2014)

Recent seminar appraisals

  • “Excellent and helpful advice.”
  • “Very relevant and helpful, very clear.”
  • “An engaging speaker who knows her stuff – excellent and thought provoking case study”.
  • “Excellent”
  • “Very clear, structured presentation. Easy to follow and good use of case studies. Very helpful in expanding my understanding”.