Child and Family Law Reform

Centre for Child and Family Law Reform

About us

nullThe Centre is sponsored by The Law School of City, University of London. The Centre’s purpose is to scrutinise existing family law and to facilitate reform where appropriate. The Centre’s Committee, chaired by His Honour Michael Horowitz QC, is comprised of academics, judges and practitioners (both barristers and solicitors). The Committee meets quarterly to discuss recent developments in family law and proposals for reform.

Recent projects

Recent projects include:

  • Family Arbitration: The Centre was at the forefront in developing the scheme for the extension of arbitration to family financial disputes under the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. The Centre is represented on the IFLA Board as well as the Advisory Committee. 

    On 30th March 2017 The City Law School hosted a lecture by His Honour Judge Donald Cryan on Family Arbitration - The First Five Years and its Future, explaining the genesis of formal family arbitration in this jurisdiction and the role of the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform in this process. You can read the full text of the lecture and watch the video on City events page.

  • Forced Marriages: The Centre has been involved since 2001 when it produced its first Paper setting out proposals. Up to and after the bringing in of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 on 25 November 2008 that involvement has continued. It has been involved in all public consultations on the topic and produced a further Paper in 2011.
  • Secure Accommodation Orders: The Centre produced a Paper in 2012 advocating a more constructive and child-focused approach to the use of Secure Accommodation Orders.
  • Child Trafficking: The Centre has worked on proposals for encouraging local authorities to apply for care orders in respect of unaccompanied children from overseas, in contrast to the Department of Health’s guidance that such children be merely accommodated under Section 20. This follows concern that such vulnerable children are often targeted and subsequently go missing from care, in circumstances where neither parents nor local authorities hold parental responsibility.
  • The Centre has also responded to numerous Consultations commissioned by both the Law Commission and the Government, on such topics as Intestacy, Cohabitation, Domestic Violence, Matrimonial Property.


Simon Blain

Simon Blain is a partner at Penningtons Manches LLP, having qualified 15 years ago as a solicitor at a leading legal aid practice. He is a qualified family mediator and a collaborative lawyer, and his practice encompasses both financial cases, and those involving children, including surrogacy.  Simon has a long-standing interest in reforming the family justice system, to make it more flexible and responsive to the needs of its users. He has been a member of Resolution since he qualified and has been a member of that organisation’s Children Committee for many years. He is now also a member of Resolution’s Executive Committee, and the organisation’s treasurer. He has contributed to many of Resolution’s responses to proposed legislative and procedural developments, including LASPO, the amendments to Section 1(2) of the Children Act (parental involvement), and privacy and reporting in the family courts.

Duncan Brooks

Duncan Brooks is a barrister, arbitrator and Deputy District Judge and has a wealth of experience of the court process from the lawyer’s and the judge’s perspective. He has been a barrister at QEB since 2000. He is known as “an excellent lawyer with superb client care skills” who deals with “very complex matrimonial finance proceedings and children law matters” (Chambers UK). He is “one of the very leading technical lawyers; a smart tactician and persuasive advocate” (Legal 500).  Duncan has been a Family Arbitrator (MCIArb) since 2013. At the time of writing, he has been appointed as the arbitrator in nine arbitrations.  He was appointed as a Deputy District Judge in 2010 and sits in county and family courts across London hearing family and civil cases. He predominantly sits in the Central Family Court.

Frances Burton

Frances Burton is a specialist Family Law Academic whose particular interests are Family Finance and Property, Status, Comparative Law and the current lack of a normative regime in English Law for Cohabitation (which was the subject of her doctoral thesis). These interests owe their development to many years' practice at the Chancery Bar, in particular in the context of international families, alongside teaching on both mainstream academic and vocational law courses including for the Bar and Law Society qualifications, and devising atypical teaching and learning for a variety of institutions.  She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Law at Buckingham University, and also Co-Director of the independent International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice, which specialises in drawing together Family lawyers and professionals in a range of associated disciplines, so as to collate Family Law academic  and practitioner perspectives in both common law and civil law jurisdictions worldwide, and is Editor of ICFLPP’s on line journal Family Law, Policy and Practice.  Frances has a keen interest in legal education, particularly in the interface between Law and Practice, having been at various times a Research Fellow at London Metropolitan University and Convenor of two of the Society of Legal Scholars' specialist subject sections (Practice, Profession and Ethics, and Family Law)  besides teaching both Family Law and  the Chancery based subjects of Property and Commercial Law at various institutions, with a view eventually to convincing commercial lawyers that they are dangerous to their clients if they do not also understand Family law.  Frances is also a retired Judge of the Upper Tribunal of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, an experienced Mediator, a Family Arbitrator, member of both the Board and Advisory Committee of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and author of several books on Family Law. She has an ongoing interest in Law Reform.  Her most recent projects have included designing and establishing modules in the theory and application of Dispute Resolution on the International Commercial Law Masters’ Degree at Buckinghamshire New University, and establishing a Family Law option in the Law Department of Aston University Business School.

Andrew Campbell

Andrew Campbell is a barrister at QEB and practises in all areas of family law including financial, children and domestic violence cases.  Prior to starting pupillage, Andrew worked as a paralegal in a leading firm of solicitors dealing with crime, extradition and prison law and he has a particular interest in family law cases that feature allegations of criminal behaviour.  Before coming to the Bar, Andrew gained commercial experience working in market research, evaluating and presenting survey data.

His Honour Judge Cryan (Hon) LLD

His Honour Judge Cryan (Hon) LLD was Called to the Bar in 1970, developing a wide-ranging practice, which included Family Law and civil and criminal litigation. He was appointed a Circuit Judge and authorised to sit as Judge of the High Court, Family Division in 1996. Judge Cryan became a member and then chairman of the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform, a research and study centre sponsored by The City Law School. He remains a member of the Centre in an emeritus capacity. He accepted the Chairmanship of The City Law School’s Advisory Board in 2009, and was granted an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2012.  In 2012, Judge Cryan was one of the founders the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. He became the Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Institute and helped establish the first schemes for both child and financial arbitration in England and Wales.  He was appointed the Reader of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 2015 and became Treasurer (Chairman) of the Inner Temple for 2016. Since 2019 he has been a visiting professor in law at Goldsmith’s College University of London.

Jo Delahunty QC

Jo Delahunty QC practices from 4 Paper Buildings. Jo returns to the Family Division having represented 75 bereaved families in the Hillsborough Inquests in 2014/5. Jo specializes in contentious and complex family cases at High Court level and above involving the death of/catastrophic injuries to a child; sex abuse; ritualized abuse and disability issues. She has a portfolio of ISIS/radicalism cases that are progressing through the High Court, alongside which she is advising organizations on risk review/child protection procedures in connection with The Goddard Inquiry into historic sex abuse. NAI/medical cases remain the anchor of her practice and, moving on from her ground breaking work exposing the significance of Vitamin D deficiency /Rickets (cf Al Alas/Wray) in fatal NAI baby cases Jo is sought after in cases which explore the degree to which genetic conditions and biological disorders can masquerade as inflicted injury. Alongside her public law work Jo has developed  a niche practice acting for high net worth clients/celebrities in cases involving allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect (alcoholism/ psychiatric issues) giving rise to transfer of residence and contact disputes. Jo is ranked as a ‘Top Ranked Silk’ by Chambers and Partners and as a ‘Top Tier ‘Leading Silk by The Legal 500 in successive editions of both publications.  Concurrent with her work in the Hillsborough Inquest Jo was Finalist Family Silk 2014 by The Legal 500 having been named Winner of Jordan’s Family Silk 2013 and Finalist of Chambers and Partners Silk 2013.  Jo is a Recorder (Public/Private Family: S.E Circuit); was made a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2013; is a member of the Child and Family Law Reform Committee and is a Steering Group Member of the Middle Temple Women’s Forum. Jo is a Patron of AMEND (Association for Endocrine Disorders).

Dr Carmen Draghici

Dr. Carmen Draghici is Reader in Law at City, University of London (where she joined in 2009), an Academic Fellow of the Inner Temple (2018-2021) and a member of the practice-focused Centre for Child and Family Law Reform (since 2010). She is also a Visiting Professor at the Open University of Catalonia (since 2009), and was formerly a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program (2015), a Visiting Research Scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University (2012) and a Leverhulme Visiting Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, University of East London (2008). She specialises in human rights law and family and child law, with a particular interest in the interpretation and application of the European Convention on Human Rights. Dr. Draghici has authored a monograph on the development of family rights in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights ("The Legitimacy of Family Rights in Strasbourg Case Law: ‘Living Instrument’ or Extinguished Sovereignty?", Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2017), as well as book chapters and journal articles (in outlets such as the Child and Family Law Quarterly, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, Public Law, European Human Rights Law Review etc.) on the right to respect for private and family life, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, the protection of civil liberties in the context of counter-terrorism, the relationship between international human rights norms and domestic law. In addition to her academic work and collaboration with the legal profession, Dr. Draghici has supported the International Federation of Journalists’ advocacy efforts at UN level, including by preparing and promoting a Draft UN Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and other Media Professionals.

Rebecca Foulkes

Rebecca Foulkes was called in 2001 and practises at the family bar from 4 Paper Buildings in London.  She is a specialist in children law, both private and public, with expertise in legally and factually complex and challenging cases.  She has represented clients in all levels of court, including the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and has appeared in many reported cases. She has particular expertise in high conflict private law disputes and in public law non-accidental injury cases which involve complex medical evidence.  She was appointed as a Recorder in 2016.

His Honour Michael Horowitz QC

His Honour Michael Horowitz QC practised in London family law chambers until his appointment to the circuit Bench in 2004. Michael dealt principally with family cases and was a nominated Judge in the Court of Protection. He retired in 2013. He has been a contributing editor to family law textbooks on jointly owned property and human rights and family law. He is a qualified mediator and an arbitrator under the IFLA scheme.

Grant Howell

Grant Howell is an experienced family law practitioner and is recognised as a leading individual in the legal directories. He has a busy domestic and international caseload as a partner with Charles Russell Speechlys LLP. He has been a member of the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform since 2009 and co-ordinated and wrote that Committee's response to the Law Commission's consultation on certain aspects of s.25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

In addition:

  • Grant has been involved throughout his career in other family law organisations at the forefront of legal training and reform; for 20 years, he was a member of Resolution's Training Committee and spent 5 years on Resolution's National Committee; he was also a member of the Family Justice Council's Education and Training sub-committee; .
  • On a regular basis, he writes and lectures on family law subjects; he is a General and Consultant Editor of various legal textbooks (e.g. Butterworths Family Law Service; Halsbury's Laws) and a co-author of the regular series of Financial Updates published in Jordan's Family Law; he frequently speaks at conferences, both at home and abroad; he is also a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
  • He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers.
  • He has trained as a collaborative lawyer and is member of both Collaborative Family Law and Creative Divorce.
  • He has a MBA in Legal Practice and was Managing Partner of Charles Russell LLP between 1999 and 2007.
  • Since its inception in 2012, he has been centrally involved in family law arbitration. As one of the first arbitrators, he suggested setting up the Forum of Family Arbitrators for all similarly qualified and was the Forum's first Chair for over 4 years remaining on the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators Advisory Committee.

Hon Mrs Justice Gwynneth Knowles

Gwynneth Knowles QC

The Honourable Mrs Justice Gwynneth Knowles was a barrister before becoming a salaried judge of the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) [UTAAC] in July 2014.

She was born in Oxford and grew up in Manchester and Birmingham where she attended local state schools. She studied modern history at Oxford before training as a social worker and completing a Master’s Degree in Applied Social Studies at Oxford. She worked as a social worker in London for several years before retraining as a barrister. She did a first six months pupillage at 4 Brick Court and a second six months pupillage at One Garden Court. She was called to the Bar in October 1993. She practised from 4 Brick Court Chambers in London before moving to Liverpool in late 2001 where she became a tenant at Atlantic Chambers. She was also latterly a door tenant at 18 St John Street Chambers in Manchester. Gwynneth specialised in family law acting for parents in relationship breakdown and for parents, children and local authorities in cases of chronic neglect, sexual abuse, serious physical and emotional abuse and death of children. She took silk in April 2011.

She was appointed a fee paid judge of the Mental Health Tribunal in 2007 and was assigned to sit in the north of England. She also had a ticket to hear cases of children and young people detained under the Mental Health Act and sat widely across northern and central England to hear such cases. She resigned her position as a fee paid mental health judge on taking up her salaried appointment in July 2014.

During her time in the UTAAC she specialised in hearing appeals from First-tier tribunals relating to social security, child support, mental health, care standards, armed forces compensation and war pensions, the regulation of immigration services, the barring of adults deemed to be a risk in occupations involving children and vulnerable adults, and information rights. She also undertook judicial reviews in relation to Criminal Injuries Compensation claims.

In summer 2015 Gwynneth was also assigned to sit from time to time as an Upper Tribunal Judge in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber to hear applications for judicial review. In July 2016 following a JAC competition, she was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge [section 9(1)] assigned to the Family Division.

In early 2016 Gwynneth became the lead judge for Scotland in the UTAAC and travelled regularly (usually monthly) to Edinburgh to determine social security, child support and war pensions and armed forces compensation appeals for those resident in Scotland. She was responsible for the judicial management of the office in Edinburgh and for a small group of fee paid judges based in Scotland. She has worked closely with the Scottish tribunals and courts judiciary in an effort to ensure that tribunal users are not disadvantaged by the proposed transfer in April 2020 of the reserved tribunals into the Scottish Tribunals system set up by the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014. Her role in Scotland was ceded to another salaried judge of the UTAAC in September 2017 after her appointment to the Family Division was announced.

Gwynneth’s appointment to be a Justice of the High Court was announced on 18 August 2017.  Her appointment took effect on 2 October 2017 and she was assigned by the Lord Chief Justice to the Family Division.

Philip Marshall QC  

Philip Marshall QC is Joint Head of Chambers at 1 King’s Bench Walk, Temple. He has extensive experience of complex "big money" matrimonial disputes at all levels, many with an international or jurisdictional element, and appeared in both White and Miller and McFarlane in the House of Lords. He is named as a Matrimonial Finance Leading Queens Counsel in both Chambers & Partners UK Directory and Legal 500. Philip is the national Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), a Bencher and former vice-chairman of the Advocacy and CPD Committee of Gray’s Inn, a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL) and an associate member of Resolution.

Harry Nosworthy

Harry Nosworthy is an experienced family lawyer who specialises in financial remedy proceedings and private law children proceedings.  Harry advises and represents clients in all aspects of the relationship breakdown between married and unmarried couples. He has expertise in dealing with complex financial remedy claims involving significant assets, company structures, off shore trusts, pensions and the intervention of third parties.  Harry also has experience in financial claims arising under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and Child Support Agency Tribunal proceedings and appeals.  Harry is often instructed to advise and represent clients in respect of cohabitee claims, and TALATA proceedings.  Harry also represents parents and children in all disputes concerning living and contact arrangements, including applications to remove children permanently from the jurisdiction.

James Turner QC  

James Turner QC has practised from 1 King’s Bench Walk since 1976 when he was called to the Bar. He has a wide and varied practice that encompasses all areas of family law, criminal law, medical disciplinary work and administrative law. He has appeared in over 150 reported cases, including a number of cases in each of his major fields of practice in the House of Lords or Privy Council – see the download below for a full list.  He took silk in 1998 and is a Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple. He is recommended in both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners Directory as a Leading Silk in Family work and he has for very many years been a contributing editor of “Archbold: Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice”.

Naomi Wiseman

Naomi Wiseman is a barrister practising at Garden Court Chambers.  Naomi has a wide experience of financial remedies and has also been instructed in applications under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 and ToLATA. Naomi also undertakes a full range of children law cases including internal and international relocation and child arrangements applications. Naomi has represented parents and grandparents in public law proceedings including special guardianship applications and has experience of representing vulnerable clients in securing injunctive relief under the Family Law Act.  Prior to practising as a barrister, Naomi worked in a range of roles in Westminster and spent time on the Obama campaign in North Carolina in 2008. As a political aide Naomi worked for MPs in the last Labour Government, as well as assisting in the management of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the African Great Lakes. Naomi worked as a policy advisor for a leading children’s charity, the National Children’s Bureau and ran the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children. Naomi continues to brief both MPs and Peers in relation to relevant family law issues.