The largest set of barristers in Northampton, providing specialist representation and advice in all aspects of Family Law across the Midlands and the South of England.

  • John Vater KC
    John Vater KC
    Year of Call: 1995 Year of Silk: 2012
John Vater KC
Year of Call: 1995 Year of Silk: 2012

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Year of Call: 1995
Inn of Court: Gray’s Inn
Education: Oxford University

John is a leading barrister in the field of children’s law. Having graduated from Oxford University (where he was a Scholar), John was called to the Bar in 1995 by Gray’s Inn (where he was Lord Justice Holker Scholar). John took Silk in 2012 and has continued to appear nationally in the most complex and sensitive children’s cases.

John’s expertise in the most complex and serious public law cases is well recognised. He is particularly well known for his skill in cross-examining and deploying highly technical expert evidence. In the past year he has appeared across the country in cases involving allegations of organized multi-generational sexual abuse, enclosed head injuries (so called ‘shaken baby’ cases), so-called factitous or induced illness, multiple fractures and the whole range of cases involving the alleged serious abuse of children. In those cases he has succeeded in arguing for the dismissal of care proceedings in several cases contrary to the weight of the written expert opinion (see for example Re E [2015] EWFC B119). In the past year John has appeared in these cases for Local Authorities, parents and Guardians. The profession recognised John’s continuing contribution to the field of public law children’s law when he was shortlisted as the Jordan’s Family Law QC of the Year.

John has given papers in the law relating to artificial reproduction and surrogacy, and has experience of cases involving so-called ‘non-traditional’ families and relationships. For example, he appeared for the father (donor) in the case of JB v KS [2015] EWHC 180, a leading case relating to the status of pre-birth agreements where sperm is donated.

International Cases:
John appeared in the leading case of Malik (Re M [2015] EWHC 1433) in which the President defined the proper procedure to be followed where Orders in Wardship are sought to prevent children from travelling to warzones. The case highlights the proper scope of wardship in such cases, as well as the use of Anti-Tipping Off and Reporting Restriction Orders in the family jurisdiction. Also before the President, John appeared in the leading case of Re S and T [2015] EWHC 1753, in the field of international adoption.

Media Law:
Many of John’s cases attract media interest and in the last year he has worked closely with the media in a number of cases. He has applied for both Reporting Restriction Orders and Anti-Tipping Off Orders ( e.g.., Re M [2015] EWHC 1433) He is familiar with the need to protect not only children at the centre of high profile litigation, but also the reputations of adults involved. He is comfortable advising in relation to reputation management and the tort of ‘misuse of private information’.

John has been recognised as a leader at the Bar by Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 for over a decade. In 2015 he was shortlisted as Family Law QC of the Year by Jordan’s Family Law.

‘A public law specialist known for his expertise in medical cases containing extensive expert evidence. He is commended for his technical knowledge and skill at cross-examination.’
Chambers UK Bar 2018 London

‘Focusing on public children law matters, Vater is particularly adept at handing sensitive cases containing complex medical evidence. He is skilled at representing local authorities and parents in cases concerning relocation and surrogacy, while also taking on private international adoption work.’
Chambers UK Bar 2018 South Eastern

‘Focusing on public children law matters, Vater is particularly adept at handling sensitive cases containing complex medical evidence. He is skilled at representing local authorities and parents in cases concerning relocation and surrogacy, while also taking on private international adoption work.’
Chambers UK Bar 2017 South Eastern

‘An impressive advocate who specialises in the field of children law. He undertakes the most serious care cases such as those involving allegations of serious injury and murder. He also handles sensitive and complex private children law matters.’
Chambers UK Bar 2018 Midlands

John is co-author of 2 practitioner text-books; ‘Contact: The New Deal’ (Jordan’s) and ‘The Public Law Outline: a Case Management Compendium’ (Jordan’s). He has written and given numerous papers over the years, spanning surrogacy and artificial reproduction, media law, inflicted head injuries and the role of experts, high conflict private law cases and ‘alienation’. He has been an invited speaker for the Jersey Law Society, the Association of Lawyers for Children, and numerous regional organisations.

In the last year John has appeared in numerous cases in the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. A complete list of John’s reported cases is available upon request.

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  • Cyrus Larizadeh KC
    Cyrus Larizadeh KC
    Year of Call: 1992 - Year of Silk: 2016
Cyrus Larizadeh KC
Year of Call: 1992 - Year of Silk: 2016

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Cyrus Larizadeh, KC
Cyrus Larizadeh is commonly called upon to handle very complex and high profile private and public law children cases.
He is a “terrific lawyer who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable”. He is “very good, a calm and competent advocate” who is “well respected by judges”.

Chambers and Partners 2008-2014

He has also been listed as a leading family barrister in Legal 500 since 2010.

Year of Call: 1992
Year of Silk: 2016

BA (Kent)
Dip Droit Francais (Bordeaux)
Cyrus was educated at Harrow School, the University of Kent and the University of Bordeaux
Rothschild Scholarship (Harrow)
Hallett Prize for Law (Kent)

French, Persian

Cyrus Larizadeh KC specialises in complex private law cases. He is also excellent in relocation cases. He has a great approach with Direct Access clients. He also has a well known expertise in both private and public law family cases where there are allegations of sexual and emotional abuse and non accidental injury. He represents parents, local authorities and children in the most serious and intractable of proceedings. He has appeared in the Supreme Court and in a number of very high profile cases including Baby P. His training on the law and evidence in sexual abuse cases is in demand across the country. His seminars on the law relating to assessments under s.38(6) Children Act 1989 are recognised nationally and have been used by the Judicial Studies Board.

He is a Member of the Magic Circle.

Professional Memberships
Family Law Bar Association
Inner Temple

‘Thoroughly charming and a delight to work with.’
The Legal 500 2015

‘Brilliant forensic skills; his analysis of evidence is sharp and on point. The Legal 500 2014 Commonly called upon to handle high-profile and complex sexual abuse and non-accidental injury matters. Expertise: “Very good; he is a calm and competent advocate.” Chambers & Partners 2014 Recomended as a Leading Junior in the area of Children law The Legal 500 2013 Private and public children law specialist Cyrus Larizadeh is commended for his “excellent courtroom manner.” His recent matters have included a number of cases arising from sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Chambers and Partners 2013 The ‘meticulous and excellent’ Cyrus Larizadeh – has ‘in-depth knowledge of all aspects of children law, and specialist knowledge of cases involving sex offences or allegations of sexual abuse’. The Legal 500 2012 Cyrus Larizadeh handles public law children matters. His cases often involve non-accidental injury and sexual abuse. Chambers and Partners 2012 Recommended as a Leading Junior in The Legal 500 2011 Cyrus Larizadeh excels at care cases involving non-accidental injury and complex medical evidence. Chambers & Partners 2011 Cyrus Larizadeh offers a ‘meticulous approach’ and is ‘well respected by judges’. The Legal 500 2010 Cyrus Larizadeh is a good all-rounder who is “conscientious, thorough and knowledgeable.” Chambers & Partners 2010 A “terrific lawyer” who is enthusiastic and knowledgable about his work,” Cyrus Larizadeh earns the respect of both peers and clients. Complex care proceedings form the mainstay of his practice, with a particular emphasis on matters involving sexual abuse and non-accidental injury. Chambers & Partners 2009 Cyrus Larizadeh makes his debut in the tables this year, having stood out from the crowd in protracted cases concerning care proceedings. “Working at an incredible level of detail and completely on top of the papers,” observers report that he is also “very good on his feet.” Chambers & Partners 2008

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  • Alison Grief KC
    Alison Grief KC
    Year of Call: 1990 Year of Silk: 2015
Alison Grief KC
Year of Call: 1990 Year of Silk: 2015

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Alison has specialised in the law relating to children, Private and Public law for 20 years after a Common Law practice in Crime and housing; the former giving plenty of forensic and cross examination experience and the latter giving her considerable experience in Judicial Review practice and procedure.

Alison is regularly instructed in all aspects of Private Law children work in which she is frequently instructed in cases involving complex factual backgrounds such as: allegations of physical or sexual abuse of children, particularly where the court is considering the veracity of the child’s account, parental influence/fabrication, ABE interviews and contamination etc; mental health issues; substance misuse, allegations of domestic violence and/or coercion and control and where experts have to be cross examined or where the case has significant forensic detail. Her Public Law experience in this respect gives her a real advantage as does dealing with cases in which children are separately represented and her experience of dealing with child witnesses. She has particular expertise in allegations of parental alienation, and is regularly instructed in international relocation cases.

In Public law, Alison is renowned for her expertise in medical cases particularly deaths involving allegations of inflicted head injury, surviving catastrophic head injuries and fractures especially with issues of Vitamin D deficiency. She regularly cross examines medical experts on their hypotheses undertaking medical research at the Institute of Child Health and challenging experts on their research base. She has undertaken joint seminars with the leading experts in the field. This expertise has also been used to great advantage in cases involving allegations of Fabricated or Induced Illness and she has undertaken a number of such cases for all parties. Alison sits as an Assistant Coroner which also gives her additional insight and knowledge. Her cases often involve concurrent criminal proceedings and she is therefore highly experienced in issues of disclosure and PII. Press injunctions are often required given the nature of the cases and she is therefore well versed in the law and procedure relating to them and media management generally. The remainder of Alison’s Public law practice is serious sexual abuse including inter-generational and inter-sibling abuse in which she has good experience of dealing with child and other vulnerable witnesses; radicalisation cases; adoptions; Special Guardianship Orders and local authority duties towards children including Judicial Review and HRA claims for damages on behalf of children and parents.

Alison regularly provides seminars on both Private law and Public law issues and the Voice of the Child including for Resolution.

Recorder – Family Public and Private Law 2012
Assistant Coroner Hertfordshire

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  • Darren Howe KC
    Darren Howe KC
    Year of Call: 1992 - Year of Silk: 2015
Darren Howe KC
Year of Call: 1992 - Year of Silk: 2015

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LLB (Hons)
Recorder 2012
Silk 2015
Deputy High Court Judge 2016

Darren represents parents, children and local authorities across the whole range of children related disputes. Darren specialises in complex cases at High Court level and above involving:
• disputes as to the cause of catastrophic injuries and/or death of children, particularly cases that may involve Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and other metabolic and genetic disorders
allegations of recent or historic sexual abuse
fabricated or induced illness allegations
• disputes as to the deprivation of liberty of a child
• parents with special needs
vulnerable or child witnesses
• contentious private law cases involving allegations of parental alienation, intractable contact disputes, domestic and international relocation.

Darren has extensive experience in cases of the most complex kind that are heard in the Family Court, the Family Division of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. He is instructed on behalf of parents, children and local authorities and has a keen eye to the detail of a case. He demonstrates a clear understanding of the medical science that the court considers when determining the cause of injury or death of the child with who the court is concerned. Darren also has extensive experience in complex fact-finding hearings concerning allegations of fabricated illness and sexual abuse.

Darren specialises in representing parents and children in cases involving proven or alleged parental alienation. He is extremely familiar with how such cases should be managed by the court, given the unusual features of these cases that require the court to think ‘out of the box’ to achieve the best result of the child.

Darren is instructed in high conflict residence cases, internal and international relocation cases and surrogacy/applications for parental orders.

International family law issues arise regularly in the public law and private law cases in which Darren appears. Darren is very experienced in addressing in international elements of modern family law, particularly relocation issues.

Darren has, for many years, been instructed to represent same sex couples in disputes concerning children. Darren has appeared in reported cases concerning surrogacy arrangements / parental orders.

Darren is also prepared to arbitrate cases outside of usual office hours to assist in reaching the earliest possible solution for the families who instruct him to arbitrate.

Member Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), South Eastern

Enough is Enough: A report on Child Protection and Mental Health Services for Children and Young People (The Centre for Social Justice [June 2014])

Concurrent Planning: Achieving early permanence for babies and young children. BAAF July 2013

Removal of Children at Interim Hearings [2009] Fam Law 321

International Surrogacy – A Country Tale, Family Law January 2008

Expert Evidence in cases of Alleged Non-Accidental Injury, Family Law October 2007

Darren is a co-author of DIY Divorce & Separation: The Expert Guide to Representing Yourself (Jordan Publishing), 2014

Seminars and Training
Darren has delivered many lectures within his Principal place of practice – 1 Garden Court Chambers, London – for external providers and local authorities on specialist subjects within his expertise, including such topics as adoption, care planning the Public Law case management protocol, paediatricians as expert witnesses, parenting orders and international surrogacy.

Recipient of the first ever FLBA ‘Special Contribution Award’ for his significant work in supporting the Bar with paperless and remote working.

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