Christopher McWatters

Year of Call: 2004

"Mr McWatters' grasp, understanding, guidance and wisdom was ultimately the main reason I attribute to the first time application success we received in our difficult and particular case. I highly recommend him and also I would not make a visa application in today's climate (political and immigration wise) without seeking counsels opinion and I couldn't have wished for better advice and guidance than I had from him."

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Chris has a mixed practice in family, asylum and immigration law as well as in unlawful detention. He is uniquely qualified to advise and represent clients in cases that involve a cross over of both family and immigration law.

Family Law


Chris's main focus is in public children's law. He also has significant experience of international child abduction, leave to remove from the jurisdiction, children's private law as well as financial remedies.

Chris is acutely aware of the way in which parents can feel alienated by family proceedings. He goes out of his way to ensure that they feel they are fully understood, and that their case is comprehensively presented in court.

Chris has experience of representing parents, guardians, grand-parents, local authorities and parties making special guardianship applications. He also has significant experience of representing parents and guardians in contested non-accidental head injury cases involving complex medical evidence as well as cases involving allegations of factitious or induced illness (FII).

Notable Cases

Past notable cases can be viewed below. Click here to see a list of recent notable cases.

JM (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 434
In this case, the Court of Appeal concluded that the decision of a circuit judge, in dealing with an appeal against an order that there should be no contact between a father and son, had not been invalidated simply because he approached his task by considering whether or not the decision had been 'plainly wrong' (an approach that had been found to be inappropriate in Re B (A Child) (Care Proceedings: Appeal) [2013] UKSC 33, and Re A (A Child) (Intractable Contact Dispute:Human Rights Violations) [2013] EWCA Civ 1104 ). What mattered was whether or not he had engaged the parties Article 8 Rights, as envisaged in both Re B and Re A.

A Local Authority v DS [2012] EWHC 1442 (Fam)
This case concerned delay and ultimate refusal by the LSC to grant prior authority for the instruction of an independent social worker to perform a parenting and risk assessment of parents. The President of the Family Division provided Guidance on seeking prior authority from the LSC for instructing an expert witness in family proceedings. The judgment is available here: A Local Authority v DS [2012] EWHC 1442 (Fam)

London Borough of Islington v Al Alas and Wray [2012] EWHC 865 (Fam)
Defended the father in care proceedings brought by a local authority, which accused the parents of "baby shaking". Led by Ian Peddie QC, Chris demonstrated, with the assistance of expert witnesses, that the baby's death had been caused by undiagnosed congenital rickets, leaving the child prone to fractures and infection. For further information, please see the judgment and case summary. The case was widely reported, including by the BBC.

In the Matter of M (Children) (2010)
The court should not delegate decisions over contact to a local authority in private law proceedings.

[2010] EWCA Civ 1043 28/07/2010

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Immigration Law

Chris has a strong background in immigration law and in particular in the cross-over immigration/family cases which feature in both jurisdictions. Chris regularly represents appellants in immigration appeals, asylum appeals and deportation appeals. Chris also has significant experience in asylum and immigration cases involving children, as well as disputes relating to British Citizenship.

Chris has developed a substantial practice in immigration judicial review, including urgent challenges to removals, certification challenges, fresh claim challenges, challenges to trafficking decisions, as well as challenges to unlawful detention. He also has experience of representing clients in disputed hearings on quantum for damages.

Chris advises clients in relation to Tier 1 entrepreneur visa applications and challenges.

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With his strong background as a family practitioner, Chris has a keen interest in and relevant knowledge for cases that involve an overlap between immigration and family law - that is with cases dealing with inter-country adoption or surrogacy, with family reunion, stranded spouse and Article 8 issues arising in both these jurisdictions. Chris also has significant experience of international child abduction.

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Notable Cases & News

All related news


Before coming to the Bar, Chris was a television scriptwriter (regular writer for The Bill) and a journalist for national newspapers. He is also an accordionist with the London Gypsy Orchestra, likes Arsenal FC and wine.


Passing the Parcel of the Refugee Crisis, Dublin III. Counsel Magazine 1/11/15
Interview with the Shadow Attorney General, Lord Bach, Counsel Magazine, 1/4/15
Interview with the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, Counsel Magazine, 1/12/14
Pre Nup À La Mode, Counsel Magazine, 1/9/14
Interview with Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, Counsel Magazine, 1/11/13

Book Review - Children and same sex families, Counsel magazine 1/10/12
A Local Authority v DS - An invitation to judicially review the Legal Services Commission, Family Law Week 10/07/12
The Wizard of the Family Bar, a profile of Stephen Cobb QC, Counsel Magazine 1/11/10
Seen & Now Heard, children giving evidence, Counsel Magazine 1/05/10
The Shining Light of the Media, Family Law Week, 27/04/09
Cat and Mouse, Family Law Week, 3/04/09

Using the Web to find an Expert, Family Law Week, 12/11/08

Chris is on the policy and editorial board of Counsel magazine and contributes to the Garden Court family blog 'The World of Family Law' the Garden Court immigration blog 'Free Movement'


  • English BA, Birkbeck College, London
  • PGDL and BVC, College of Law, London

Professional Membership

  • Member of FLBA
  • Member of ALC
  • Member of ILPA
  • Editorial Board of Counsel magazine

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