All members of Senate House Chambers take on privately and publicly funded work at every level of court. Our barristers provide a wealth of specialist knowledge and experience.

International Child Law

Our specialist children’s law barristers deserve their reputation for providing expert advice and advocacy in international child law proceedings. All parties, including local authorities, parents, children, and CAFCASS, have benefited from their expertise.

Our barristers respond promptly to regular urgent calls for advice and representation in this critical sector. We understand that timing is everything and can make all the difference to the child or children in question. This applies to applications for injunctions, recovery and Wardship.

Our members undertake cases across all elements of international child law including:

  • care proceedings with issues pertaining to jurisdiction
  • child abduction – both internal and external
  • the international movement of children – including requests for ‘leave to remove’ children to permanently live aboard
  • enforcement of international orders
  • international adoption
  • forced marriage
  • child trafficking

Our international children’s law team have a detailed knowledge and understanding of all relevant international treaties, including The Hague Convention and Brussels II.

Our practitioners in this area also provide a dedicated out of hours advice and advocacy service in light of the need to ensure effective representation in cases such as these where time is so often of the essence.

For advice or representation that is timely, thorough and effective, contact us:
Tel – 01604 210 979
Fax – 01604 622 283
Email –

Senate House Chambers International Child Law Team

Penny Van Spall
Year of Call: 1998

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Year of Call: 1998
Inn of Court: Gray’s Inn
Education: BA(Hons) Communication Studies
Post Graduate Diploma in applied Sociological Studies

Family Law Specialist, with experience of working at Courts of all levels including, The High Court and Court of Appeal.

Significant experience in child related matters both in the Public and Private Lw sectors.

Public Law:

• Regularly accepts instructions from Guardians, Local Authorities, Parents and The Official Solicitor.
• Accepts cases brought under the Children Act 1989 and Adoption and Children Act 2002
• Accepts cases involving an international element
• Accepts cases involving mental health issues

Private Law:

• Domestic Violence, including applications or responses for non molestation orders
• Applications or Responses to Occupation Order
• Prohibited Steps Order
• Specific Issue Order
• Removal from Jurisdiction
• Child Arrangements Order.

Member of Family Law Bar Association
Member of Midland Circuit

Registered with the Bar Council to conduct Public Access work(subject to terms and conditions)

Notable Case:

F v F (2007) EWHC 2543 (Fam)

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Lianne Murphy
Joint Head of Chambers
Year of Call: 2001

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Listed as a leading junior in Family and Children Law in the legal 500.
She has a first-class mind

Year of Call: 2001
Inn of Court: Lincoln’s Inn

Practice Areas:
Family Law specialist including:
• Public law for children
• Public law for parents
• Private law for Rule 16.4 Guardians
• Specialist Non- Accidental Injury
• Radicalisation
• Medico – Legal
• Human Rights expertise in care proceedings
• Sexual abuse
• Jurisdictional expertise in care proceedings

Lianne deals with Children Act applications in the most serious and intractable of proceedings. She specialises in complex care matters involving allegations of non-accidental injury as well as jurisdictional issues and Brussels II. Her forensic and analytical approach is perfectly suited to managing complex medico-legal issues. Lianne is regularly instructed in such matters and has recently been involved in cases concerning infant death, complex inflicted injuries to multiple children and injury sites, FGM and inter familial sexual abuse. Lianne is adept at challenging medical expertise from psychological and psychiatric evidence to paediatric, radiological and neurologically based disciplines.

Lianne has particularly well recognised expertise in Human Rights and recently represented the Mother in the case of Northamptonshire County Council v AS and Others [2015] EWHC 199, securing the first human rights award for damages within the jurisdiction for a parent in care proceedings. Lianne regularly pursues cases where a breach of Article 8 and Article 6 or an abuse of s20 Children Act 1989 is alleged. She has been instrumental in negotiating and litigating numerous settlements on behalf of parents and children and delivers external training on Human Rights Issues in Care Proceedings.

Lianne regularly acts upon instruction from the Children’s Guardian in both public and private law proceedings, including recently before the President of the Family Division when innovative use was made of Contact Monitoring Orders, attracting praise from the Bench. Lianne represents parents in both care proceedings and private law applications to permanently remove children from the jurisdiction.

Lianne’s exceptional communication skills enable her to deliver sensitive and carefully tailored client care. She makes her client’s understanding of both law and process a priority. She works hard to ensure that every client leaves Court understanding the evidence and the rationale for the Judge’s decisions.

She is proficient and sensitive in dealing with a broad range of clientele, including independently represented children and the most vulnerable of parents, including those with mental health difficulties and addictive behaviours. Lianne prides herself on treating each client with an equally significant degree of care, diligence and respect.

Lianne’s persuasive style and analytical approach to her cases make her a well-respected advocate throughout the Midland’s Circuit.

Lianne’s working background started as a Business Standards Manager at HSBC Rail. Lianne strives to achieve and maintain the highest standards in her practice, as she was employed to do in business. She regularly adjudicates upon ancillary relief and private law applications when sitting as a Deputy District Judge. Lianne is proud to be Joint Head of Senate House Chambers with Miss Michelle Christie and privileged to have been appointed to the Local Family Justice Board and also to the Bar Standards Board’s Professional Conduct Committee.

Reported Cases:
P (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 720 (11 April 2018)

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Lucy Fairclough
Year of Call: 2005

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Year of Call: 2005
Inn of Court: Gray’s Inn
Degree: LL.B (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Practice Areas: Public Law Children (Care and Adoption), Private Law Children

Family law:
Lucy Fairclough is a family law specialist, practising in all aspects of private and public child law and Family Law Act cases. Prior to specialising in family law, Lucy also practised at the criminal bar prosecuting and defending a wide variety of offences including sexual abuse and domestic violence cases. This background has provided Lucy with invaluable experience, skills and knowledge applicable and beneficial to her conduct of family law cases involving criminal allegations; in particular sexual abuse, non accidental injury and domestic violence as well as contested hearings and fact finding hearings. Lucy has a strong reputation for being a professional, accomplished, dedicated and tenacious advocate who has particular skill in client care.

Lucy has extensive experience representing parents, Local Authorities, children/ Guardians and Interveners in difficult and complex cases, with a wealth of experience in proceedings involving issues of:
• serious sexual abuse and violence
• non accidental injuries
• learning disabled and vulnerable parties
• addiction
• physical or mental abuse which require a sensitive and considered approach
• Intractable contact disputes

Lucy is particularly adept at dealing with challenging clients and litigants in person and is committed to achieving the best outcome for her clients.

Public Access Scheme:
Lucy is able to take instructions under the Public Access scheme.

Appointments and memberships:
Family Law Bar Association
Midland Circuit

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Hannah Mettam
Year of Call: 2006

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Listed as a leading junior in Family and Children Law in the legal 500.

Year of Call: 2006
Inn of Court: Inner Temple
Degree: LLB (Hons), 1st Class, Nottingham Trent University
BVC: Nottingham: Result- Very Competent
Practice Areas: Public Law Children matters, and some private law children in cases where serious allegations are made.
Hannah is a specialist in children act proceedings. Her practice consists largely of Public Law proceedings in which she represents the full range of parties; the Local Authority, Parents (including through the Official Solicitor), Children’s Guardians and Children requiring representation separately from their Guardian.

Hannah has particular expertise in the following areas:
• Serious injuries to children
• Complex medical cases.
• Sexual abuse including inter-familial and inter-sibling abuse.
• Care proceedings where there are concurrent criminal proceedings and/or PII issues, assisted by her early career at the Bar as a criminal practitioner.

On occasion Hannah conducts complex Private Law Children proceedings in which:-
• Allegations of abuse are raised or other allegations leading to a fact-finding exercise
• Parental Alienation is considered an issue.
• Abduction is an issue.

For the first 5 years of her career, Hannah practised predominantly in criminal defence. She conducted criminal trials across the full range of offences and at all levels, including rape and serious historic sexual abuse matters.

As a result of this background, Hannah is a particularly popular choice in complex cases when cross-examination is required, such as for lengthy fact-finding and final hearings, where her skills are regularly praised by clients, solicitors, and Judges alike. Hannah’s advocacy style has been described on several occasions as “formidable,” she is renowned for attention to detail and a thorough forensic approach to her advocacy, delivered with a compelling ease. Hannah has significant experience in challenging the opinions of professionals and Experts and will not shy away from doing so.
Hannah has appeared in complex cases involving the most serious of issues, including in the High Court, both with and without a leader. Hannah was recently led by Michelle Christie of Chambers acting for Northamptonshire County Council in a case that was described by Mr. Justice Keehan QC as the worst case of child abuse that he had experienced in his 30 years on the Bench and at the Bar.
Hannah has an established reputation for incredibly thorough and tactical preparation, which has been known to contribute to an effective outcome in many cases where one was not necessarily anticipated. Hannah also prepares all requisite pre-hearing documentation to the highest standard at short notice, which has, on many occasions, been seen to be going above and beyond what is required.
Hannah demonstrates excellent skills in client care; she provides sensitive and down-to-earth yet robust advice, preparing clients to meet the challenges of proceedings. Hannah likes to take the time to hold conferences with clients prior to hearings and strongly believes in the importance of continuity of counsel.

Reported Cases:
NCC v L & Another (2014) EWHC 4828 (Fam)
ED, Re [2015] EWFC B84 (29 May 2015)
P (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 720 (11 April 2018)

Public Access Scheme:
Hannah is able to take instructions under the Public Access scheme.

Pro-bono Work:
Hannah adopts the approach of Senate House Chambers to delivering a continuing commitment to pro-bono work. Hannah has recently completed a case that was initially privately funded. When the funds ran out, Hannah continued to represent the client on a pro bono basis, including at a final hearing.

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Andrew Duncan
Year of Call: 2011

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Bar Professional Training Course (VC)

LL.M International Law

LL.B (Hons) Law

Call: 28th July 2011

Inn of Court: The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn

Practice areas: Family

Profile: Andrew has developed a specialist Family Law practice, including public, private law and matrimonial finance proceedings.

Andrew has established a practice far beyond his year of call and has achieved a particularly strong reputation for his work in public law cases.

Andrew is an approachable and down to earth barrister. He is also a straight talker, who will quickly put clients at ease. Recognised as a team player, Andrew is valued by his professional clients as someone who will always go the extra mile.

Andrew has developed a successful direct access practice for private children work and receives many referrals from his clients. Andrew is a resolute advocate and members of the judiciary have often commented on his ability to forensically cross-examine to great effect.

Andrew is a member of the Family Law Bar Association.

Notable Cases:

Re P (2019)
Andrew acted for the children where he sought the transfer of living arrangements of two children who were living with the mother to their father’s care. This was a complex parental alienation case where the mother had previously made serious allegations of abuse against the father. The children were successfully transitioned at the conclusion of the case.

Re RJ (2018)
Andrew represented a father in a “parental alienation case” who faced twelve allegations of physical abuse against his child made by the mother. The court found none of those allegations proven and went on to find that the mother had alienated the child from the father and that the child was at risk of significant harm in the care of the mother.

Re PD (2018)
Andrew successfully sought an order for no direct contact to father after cross examining a consultant psychiatrist, community psychiatric nurse, and CAFCASS officer who had all recommended that there be direct contact between the father and the child.

Re EE (2017)
Andrew represented two children in a “parental alienation case” where the mother had unsuccessfully sought findings of sexual abuse against the father. The court had to the contrary made findings of implacable hostility and alienation against the mother. Andrew successfully sought the transfer of the children’s living arrangements to the father and a “no contact order” for the mother.

Re HW (2017)
On behalf of a father, Andrew successfully appealed the decision of the lower court to make care and placement orders following a final hearing. The appeal consisted of two days of legal argument and was opposed by both the Local Authority and the children’s guardian. The appeal was allowed and the matter listed for re-hearing.

Re EW (2016)
Andrew, acting for the Local Authority, successfully appealed the decision of a District Judge to adjourn care and placement order applications for a further six months to allow time for the mother to engage in further therapy. This was following a fully contested seven-day trial. The appeal consisted of two days of legal argument and was opposed by legal teams for both the mother and the father.

Re JB (2016)
Andrew successfully opposed three interim removal hearings sought by the Local Authority. At the conclusion of the proceedings, two of the three children remained in the care of Andrew’s client.

Re P (2016)
Andrew successfully sought multiple findings on behalf of a mother who had been subjected to coercive and controlling behaviour by the father, who used the interpretation of religious scripture as a defence.

Re BK (2015)
Andrew successfully sought the return of three children made subject to police protection orders during on-going proceedings. The children were returned to the interim care of the parents that day, before the 72 hour PPO time limit expired.

Re K (2015)
Andrew, on behalf of a child in private law proceedings, successfully sought a transfer of residence to the father and the imposition of supervised contact to the mother. This was following the mother originally making allegations of child sexual abuse against the father that were not proven. On the contrary, findings regarding the mother’s harmful psychological state were made against her.

Re C (2015)
Andrew successfully sought findings of enduring, systemic and compulsive lying against a prima facie credible father. It was found that these lies were likely to effect the long term emotional welfare of the child concerned and the case concluded with a ‘no contact’ order.

During his years as a student, Andrew won the first year Mooting Competition at the University of Sussex. During the same year, he won the University Negotiating Competition, was placed first in the South Region finals and went on to the UK National Finals.

During his second year Andrew mooted at Lewes Crown Court, competed in the ESU Mooting competition, and at the National Finals of the Telder International Moot Court competition. In the same year he was elected as President of the University’s Student Law Society, managing a committee of 25 and a membership body of 600 students. Andrew scored the highest mark for Civil Advocacy in his year, whilst studying the BPTC at the BPP Law School, London.

A passion for the countryside, you will find him engaged in most country pursuits, from skiing and scuba diving to fly fishing for salmon.

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Ayesha Bell-Paris
Year of Call: 2012

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Year of Call: 2012

Inn of Court: The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn

BA (English); University College London
Graduate Diploma in Law; Kaplan Law School, London
Bar Professional Training Course; Kaplan Law School, London

Scholarships and Awards:
Lord Denning Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn)
Winner of the Crowther Shield Advocacy Competition (Lincoln’s Inn)

Appointments and Memberships:
Denning Society (Lincoln’s Inn)
Midland Circuit
Family Law Bar Association

Practice Areas: Family Law

Public Access scheme: Ayesha is qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public.

Ayesha accepted an offer of tenancy at Senate House Chambers in 2014 after the successful completion of pupillage.

Ayesha has since developed her expertise in all areas of family law and enjoys a varied practice. Ayesha is regularly instructed in both public and private law children proceedings, Family Law Act 1996 applications as well as proceedings relating to the breakdown of a relationship. Ayesha has a particular interest in matrimonial finance cases and proceedings involving Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) applications.

Ayesha has a balanced practice and has represented local authorities, parents, extended family members, intervenors and children’s guardians. She has been instructed in cases at all levels of allocation (including in the High Court) and in all hearings from First Appointments to Appeal Hearings. Ayesha also has experience in Wardship proceedings and cases involving an international element.

Ayesha is renowned for her impeccable preparation of cases and outstanding written work. Her sensitive and pragmatic approach has been commended by lay clients and Judges alike. Ayesha also appreciates the importance of being able to work as a team alongside her professional clients.

Ayesha often acts for vulnerable clients, such as those for whom English is not their first language or those represented by the Official Solicitor. Ayesha is regularly instructed in cases involving parental alienation, substance misuse, mental health issues, domestic violence and non-accidental injury.

Recent Cases:

B v P [2015 & 2018] – TOLATA proceedings culminating in a final hearing at which Ayesha successfully obtained an order for sale of a jointly owned property and a favourable division of the equity. Ayesha was instructed in the subsequent enforcement proceedings in which a possession order was obtained and costs awarded.

Re H-C [2017] – Ayesha represented the applicant Local Authority in care proceedings involving a 5-day final hearing at the conclusion of which Care and Placement Orders were granted. Ayesha also dealt with a consequent application for a specific issue order against a respondent in relation to their use of social media.

Re R-T [2017] – Ayesha represented a mother in care proceedings who was accused of inflicting significant bruising upon her young child. No findings of inflicted injury were made during the fact finding hearing and the proceedings concluded with both subject children being rehabilitated home pursuant to a Supervision Order. Ayesha received the following feedback from her instructing solicitor: “Can I also thank you very much for all your hard work in this matter – it has been greatly reassuring to have Counsel in this matter that I have been able to completely rely upon”.

Re D-K [2017] – Ayesha represented a mother in care proceedings. The Local Authority’s application for interim removal of a new-born baby was successfully opposed and the proceedings ultimately concluded with the child remaining in the mother’s care.

Other interests:

Ayesha is a certified scuba diver and enjoys travelling to foreign climes so that she can make new underwater friends. When on dry land, Ayesha enjoys cooking, going to the theatre, electronic music and all equestrian pursuits.

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Adam Gulliver
Year of Call: 2016

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Year of Call: 2016
Inn of Court: Middle Temple
Degree: LL.B (Hons) Law (University of Bangor) 1st Class

Bar Professional Training Course: BPP Law School, Manchester – Outstanding – 2016
Scholarships and Awards: Harmsworth Scholarship 2015/2016 (Middle Temple)
Practice Areas: Family Law, Criminal Law and Civil Law

Adam joined chambers as a pupil in October 2016. Prior to completing the Bar Professional Training Course Adam worked as a Business Development Paralegal in North Wales and was solely responsible for securing new clients in this region for a Claimant Personal Injury law firm.

Adam recently completed his first six under the supervision of Lianne Murphy (Joint Head of Chambers) and his second six under the supervision of Stuart Murphy and has now been welcomed as a tenant at Senate House Chambers.

During his pupillage Adam was exposed to a wide array of public children’s matters and shadowed members of chambers on several long-running fact-finding hearings. He has experienced cases involving neglect, emotional harm, non-accidental injury and sexual abuse. Adam also shadowed members of chambers representing clients on private law Children Act matters and private law Family Act matters (including non-molestation orders and occupation orders), in addition to financial remedies proceedings. Similarly, Adam spent time with the criminal team in chambers, both in the Crown Court and the Magistrates Court.

Since beginning his own practice, Adam has frequently represented parties in Public and Private Children’s Law and Family Law Act matters, both at an interim stage and within final hearings. Adam has experience representing a range of parties in such matters, including parents, local authorities, children (with or without a Children’s Guardian) and grandparents. Adam has also developed a strong practice in matrimonial finance proceedings and TOLATA cases, largely due to the pragmatic and logical approach he is able to bring to such cases.

Adam has also regularly appeared in the Magistrates court as a CPS prosecutor.

Adam now regularly accepts instructions in all main areas of law including:
• Public and Private Children’s Law
• Private Family Act matters
• Financial Remedies proceedings
• Criminal Law (Prosecution and Defence)
• Civil Law

Whilst at University Adam was part of the first team to represent Wales at the Telders International Moot Court Competition held at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. He also founded and was the inaugural President of the Bangor University Legal Advocacy Society. Upon completion of his law degree Adam received the highest overall mark in the history of Bangor Law School.

Whilst studying for the Bar Adam was the Vice-President of the BPP Bar and Mooting Society in Manchester and subsequently received the highest overall mark out of all other Middle Temple students in his BPTC cohort at Manchester.

Family Law Bar Association
Middle Temple

Adam has impeccable judgment and is therefore a passionate Liverpool fan.
Adam also enjoys musical theatre, reading fiction and quizzes of all varieties and forms.

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Paul Froud
Year of Call: 2013

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Year of Call: 2013
Inn of Court: Middle Temple
Degree: LL.B (Hons) Law (University of Sussex)

Bar Vocational Course: Kaplan Law School – Very Competent


Prior to commencing Pupillage, Paul was employed as a paralegal for a firm of solicitors specialising in private children’s law and high net worth ancillary relief. Paul also gained valuable experience during his time working for a firm of Solicitors specialising in care proceedings across all levels of court.

Paul also spent a year working for Cafcass supporting the Chief Executive, Policy and Legal Teams in a range of projects. These included assisting in a number of high profile cases in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Paul has experience in representing all parties in Private and Public Law matters. Paul has appeared before all levels of Judge. Paul regularly represents Local Authorities, parents and Children’s Guardians in care proceedings involving complex issues.

Paul has experience of representing Children directly, including Children detained in Secure Accommodation.

Practice Overview:
Family Law: Paul accepts instructions in Private and Public Law matters, acting for Local Authorities, Parent’s and Children’s Guardians.

Paul is also happy to accept instructions in respect of ancillary relief matters.

Criminal Law: Paul is regularly instructed in the Magistrates Court both prosecuting and defending; Paul also has experience of acting in the Crown Court.

Civil Law: Paul has experience of undertaking a wide range of civil hearings, including residential possessions, interim applications, infant approval hearings and small claims, through his previous employment as a Solicitors Agent.

Reported & Published Cases:
P (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 720 (11 April 2018)

Re X [2018] EWFC B25 (11 May 2018)

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