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Sarah has acted in cases involving allegations of sexual harm to children, non-accidental injuries, domestic abuse, substance misuse and neglect, and cases requiring the instruction and cross-examination of experts.
Sarah is experienced at dealing with contested interim placement hearings, contested final hearings or fact-finding hearings (which involve collaboration with the police through ongoing criminal investigations or other third-party services) and applications for interim or final orders, along with applications for expert instruction, discharge of public law orders, or for contact with children in care. Sarah is also experienced at dealing with applications by parents for leave to oppose adoption orders.
Sarah also accepts instructions on behalf of children to care proceedings through their Guardians. She has experience in representing the Guardian on appeal and re-hearing from the decision of a District Judge in a case involving significant findings of fact made against a parent. Prior to joining chambers, Sarah had a wealth of experience in this area of law, having regularly represented clients at pre-proceedings (PLO) meetings with Children’s Services across Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire.
Sarah has appeared in several deprivations of liberty cases concerning children, inviting the High Court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction, including out of hours urgent hearings, in the High Court and in the National DOLS Court since its introduction. Sarah accepts instructions in these matters relating to children, whether there are ongoing care proceedings or whether children are already subject to final Care Orders, and has delivered seminars to local firms of solicitors both on this topic and on other aspects of care proceedings generally, and represents all parties on these applications, including children directly who seek to challenge a DOLS order which has been made in respect of them.
Sarah regularly represents parents, extended family members, and children, in private family law matters in applications for Child Arrangements Orders (Live With and Spend Time With), Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issue Orders, in addition to applications for permission to apply for an order or for orders under s.91(14) Children Act 1989. On a number of occasions, Sarah has assisted parties in coming to agreements on the terms of final orders and, on others, has obtained defined orders for clients at a contested final hearing, including where final private law orders have been made following care proceedings.
Sarah has dealt with a variety of disputes involving complicated factual matters that have required separate finding of fact hearings, cases in which PD12J has applied, allegations of intractable hostility (previously termed parental alienation), and those which have required the involvement of the Local Authority and/or Children’s Guardians. Sarah has a volume of experience in acting for both Applicants and Respondents in matters under the Family Law Act, successfully obtaining Occupation and Non-Molestation Orders for vulnerable applicants.
Sarah offers advice to clients facing these proceedings and has, on many occasions, managed to successfully negotiate with parties to resolve proceedings at return or final hearings. Prior to joining chambers, Sarah volunteered with the National Centre for Domestic Violence, preparing witness statements for use in ex-parte applications. Sarah can, therefore, also assist with the drafting of applications. Sarah accepts instructions for representation, advice and drafting at any stage of Family Law Act proceedings and at both with or without notice hearings.
Sarah has had significant exposure to matrimonial and financial work and, during her pupillage, provided pro bono advice and representation to vulnerable parties in relation to financial remedy proceedings. Since joining chambers as a tenant, Sarah has continued to accept instructions in family finance matters and has assisted parties in negotiating settlements on issues, including a transfer of tenancy and pension sharing orders. Sarah is able to take instructions from Applicants and Respondents following divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.