St John’s Chambers is one of the leading sets on the Western Circuit for public and private child law work.”

The Legal 500 2024, Family: Children and Domestic Violence

Voted ‘Regional Family Law Chambers of the Year’ at Family Law Awards 2023

St John’s Chambers boasts an established and large Family Law team, which allows us to offer strength and depth of experience in all areas of children public law, advising and representing not only local authorities, parents and Guardians, but also competent children, adopters, foster parents, interveners and other interested parties such as health trusts or police forces.

Members of the team have vast experience across the full spectrum of public law and related matters, ranging from applications for care and supervision orders, placement and adoption orders, leave to apply to revoke placement or to oppose adoption orders, applications for foreign and domestic adoptions, forced marriage, FGM/c and radicalisation cases.

A large part of our work involves cases where there is a need for a fact-finding hearing and consequential applications between the criminal and family jurisdictions, and many of our cases involve complex medical and other expert evidence or international issues. Across the team, we are used to representing vulnerable people and acting for those with mental health difficulties and learning disabilities, whether directly or through the Official Solicitor.

We represent clients at all levels of tribunal covering the Western Circuit and beyond.

Public Access

Some members of the team are also available to act, where appropriate, for members of the public, under the Public Access scheme. Read more.

Publications and training

The team includes published authors, members who run their own Family Law blogs, and members who write regularly for Family Law Week, the Family Law journal and for other legal publications.

The team also offers a series of free CPD-accredited training events in Chambers, and members regularly conduct bespoke seminars at solicitors’ offices, or at other venues throughout the UK. Keeping up to date with family law and sharing knowledge is really important to us. For more information, please contact our family clerks on 0117 923 4720 or email [email protected].

Children Public Law Team

Christopher Sharp QC

Christopher Sharp KC

  • Call: 1975
  • Silk: 1999

With many reported cases, Christopher is frequently instructed on appeals to the Court of Appeal. He has extensive experience in high-value financial remedy, ToLATA and Schedule 1 cases, including those with a foreign element, many of which are...

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Lucy Reed KC

  • Call: 2002
  • Silk: 2023

Lucy is a family law specialist and has practised in family law throughout her professional career. Her practice now spans all areas of children work. She often acts in complex, multi-party or high conflict intractable private law disputes....

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Susan Hunter

Susan Hunter

  • Call: 1985

Susan is a children law expert with 30 years’ experience in children public law cases representing parents, wider family members, the children, local authorities and other intervenors. She has been involved in cases that range from neglect, drug...

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Sarah Philimore

Sarah Phillimore

  • Call: 1994

Sarah has extensive experience in public law proceedings appearing at all court levels for parents, guardians, interveners and local authorities. She also deals with all other Children Act work with and has experience of cases with jurisdictional issues...

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Judi Evans

  • Call: 1996

Judi is Head of our Family & Divorce team, and practises in all areas of family law, with a particular specialisation in public law proceedings, removal from the jurisdiction, abduction, and international relocation. She is commended for her passionate style...

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Abigail Bond

Abigail Bond

  • Call: 1999

Abigail practises in all aspects of the law relating to children and is Head of the Children Law team. She has considerable experience of care proceedings in which she represents local authorities, parents and children. She handles a...

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Delia Thornton

Delia Thornton

  • Call: 1999

Delia is a specialist family law barrister and mediator. She has a particular interest in care proceedings where she represents parents, and guardians. Her work load involves Fact-Finding hearings concerning allegations of domestic violence, sexual abuse and non-accidental...

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Zahid Hussain

Zahid Hussain

  • Call: 2001

Zahid is an experienced family law barrister with a practice encompassing all areas of Children Law. He frequently represents parents, family members, Guardians, the Official Solicitor and local authority’s in care proceedings at all tiers of Court across the South West, often...

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Caroline Elford

Caroline Elford

  • Call: 2002

Caroline is a specialist family practitioner who practises in all areas of family law with a strong emphasis on care proceedings. Her practice in this area has given her a detailed knowledge of the appropriate procedural law and...

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Julia Belyavin

Julia Belyavin

  • Call: 2003

Care cases form the bulk of Julia’s practice. She is instructed regularly on behalf of parents, Guardians and Local Authorities, as well as by intervenors/other family members. She has experience of a wide range of cases dealing with...

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Olivia Pike

Olivia Pike

  • Call: 2008

Olivia acts on behalf of local authorities, parents, extended family members, interveners and children (separately or by their Guardians) in public law cases. She has expertise in cases involving the representation of vulnerable parents, including those with learning...

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Asha Groves NEW

Asha Groves

  • Call: 2013

Asha represents all parties at all stages of public law proceedings. She has valuable experience from working in the Children’s Services Legal Department of a Local Authority in the South West prior to joining the Bar. During this...

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Ryan Morgan

  • Call: 2017

Ryan accepts instructions in all areas of family law with a particular interest in public law care proceedings. Ryan often represents vulnerable parties with cognitive difficulties including through the Official Solicitor and those who require the assistance of...

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Sophie Smith Holland

Sophie Smith-Holland

  • Call: 2015

Sophie regularly acts on behalf of Local Authorities, parents, extended family members, intervenors and children through their Children’s Guardian. Sophie is familiar with representing vulnerable clients (including those with learning disabilities, mental health conditions or other difficulties and...

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Harriet Dudbridge

Harriet Dudbridge

  • Call: 2015

Harriet has joined chambers after her completion of pupillage under the supervision of Susan Hunter. Harriet joins St John’s Chambers as a Justice First Fellow, a scheme devised by the Legal Education Foundation for the next generation of...

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Sarah Fincham

  • Call: 2018

Sarah represents local authorities, parents and children in public law proceedings at all stages, from initial hearing / interim care hearing, through to final hearing. In a recent case (November 2021) she successfully challenged numerous negative assessments by...

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Dominik Morton

  • Call: 2018

Dominik has recently joined St John’s Chambers Family & Divorce team, formerly a barrister at Queen Square Chambers. Dominik is praised by many of his lay and professional clients as well as members of the judiciary for his...

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Zoey White

Zoey White

  • Call: 2018

Zoey is a specialist family law barrister with a particular focus on matters relating to private law children disputes. She is regularly instructed to represent clients in all types of applications under s.8 Children Act 1989 and is...

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Vivien Croly

  • Call: 2019

Vivien joined Chambers as a tenant in October 2022 following the successful completion of her specialist family pupillage under the supervision of Zoë Saunders. During pupillage, Vivien observed a number of high value claims for financial relief involving...

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James Adams

  • Call: 2021

James specialises in public and private children law. He has experience dealing with a broad spectrum of issues relating to children’s welfare including serious child sexual abuse, self-harm, psychiatric illness, substance misuse, coercive and controlling behaviour, alienating behaviours and...

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Diana

Diana M. Panizzon-Pineda

  • Call: 2021

Diana specialises in all areas of family law relating to children, including both private and public law proceedings. Children (Private Law) Diana is regularly instructed in protracted and intricate private law matters. She appears across all stages of...

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Glen Pritchard

Glen Pritchard

  • Call: 2022

Glen joined our Family & Divorce team in 2022 following a successful career as a solicitor working for a Local Authority where he focussed on children law, representing them in a range of hearing from contested interim removal...

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Directory Quotes

St John’s Chambers is a very strong family set, housing a team which covers all aspects of family law.”

Legal 500 2023, Family & Children Law

St John’s Chambers is very efficient and counsel are exceptional.”

Legal 500 2023, Family & Children Law (Client Service)

The clerks are always available at the end of the phone or by email. If any issue arises they will go above and beyond in order to find a solution so that there is minimal difficulty to the instructing solicitor. A truly faultless service.”

Chambers UK 2023, Family & Matrimonial (Client Service)

All of the barristers at St John’s are extremely capable of dealing with all types of matters, from simple cases through to incredibly complicated and contentious ones.”

Chambers UK 2023, Family & Matrimonial

St John’s Chambers has a lengthy roster of silks and juniors with invaluable expertise in a wide range of family and matrimonial matters. Members are particularly skilled at handling cross-jurisdictional matters for high net worth individuals, especially those concerning the division of assets as part of divorce proceedings. The barristers are frequently called upon to assist with the most complex public children mandates encompassing sexual abuse, brain injury and trafficking matters, and also take on private work such as Children Act proceedings. ‘It is an excellent chambers with strength at all levels,’ one interviewee notes.”

Chambers UK 2022, Family/Matrimonial

Luke Hodgson, practice manager, gives a service which feels tailored to the individual. This is mirrored by his team, whose response times to a request are always impressive. The chambers is very organised and very well run. The clerks go above and beyond and are very quick to respond to enquiries. The clerking team are friendly, approachable and extremely efficient, always exceeding expectations.”

Chambers UK 2022, Family/Matrimonial (Client Service)

Excellent set’ St John’s Chambers is ‘a go-to’ chambers in the South West for hard working, knowledgeable and good quality barristers across the board in the arena of family law.”

Legal 500 2022, Family and Children Law

St John’s Chambers has a lengthy roster of silks and juniors with invaluable expertise in a wide range of family and matrimonial matters. Members are particularly skilled at handling cross-jurisdictional matters for high net worth individuals, especially those concerning the division of assets as part of divorce proceedings. The barristers are frequently called upon to assist with the most complex public children mandates encompassing sexual abuse, brain injury and trafficking matters, and also take on private work such as Children Act proceedings. ‘St John’s is our first choice of chambers on the Western Circuit. What sets them apart is the breadth and depth of their membership,” one source says.’ “

Chambers UK 2021, Family/Matrimonial

Luke Hodgson is the practice manager for the family team and Elaine Jewell-Moore, the family law practice team leader, is described as ‘particularly great, prompt and efficient.’ “

Chambers UK 2021, Family & Divorce (Client Service)

St John’s Chambers is home to a large team of family barristers specialising in high-profile public and private family matters on the Western Circuit.”

Legal 500 2021, Family and Children Law

Client Quotes

“St Johns Chambers is one of the fore-front chambers offering counsel for Public Childcare. The clerks are particularly helpful and will go above and beyond to find cover for hearings at short notice.”

Legal 500 client feedback

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