Katherine Duncan

Year of Call: 2014

Katherine is a barrister specialising in family law relating to children. She has a busy practice in private and public law and international family law.


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Katherine is a barrister specialising in family law relating to children. She has a busy practice in public and private law and international family law. She is registered with the Bar Council to accept Public Access instructions.



Katherine practises in complex public law representing Local Authorities, parents and guardians, grandparents and other kinship carers.

She represents clients in cases where there have been allegations of non-accidental injury, factitious or induced illness, domestic violence, chronic neglect, interfamilial sexual abuse, and alcohol and drug abuse. She regularly works with parents and grandparents and other kinship carers with learning difficulties, mental health difficulties and substance misuse issues, and works hard to make sure they are able to fully engage in the proceedings. Katherine is well known for her empathic approach and ability to distil complex legal and factual issues in a way that is easy to understand.

Katherine is regularly instructed by Local Authorities for applications for Deprivation of Liberty Orders and Secure Accommodation Orders. Katherine is well versed in the legal framework for such orders.

Katherine also represents older children, who have separated from the guardian, and are instructing their solicitor during public law proceedings.

Many of her cases have an international element to them which she is comfortable advising on.

Katherine represents clients in private law children applications including Child Arrangements Orders, Prohibited Steps Order and Specific Issue order applications including leave to remove from the jurisdiction, internal relocation and change of surname. She is regularly instructed to represent clients where there have been allegations of domestic violence and often where a guardian has been appointed for the children. She is regularly instructed to represent clients in same-sex relationships. She is known for her dedicated and robust approach. Katherine also represents r16.4 guardians.

In international proceedings, Katherine represents clients in cases concerning child abduction, child relocation, temporary removal and access rights under the Hague Convention 1996.

Notable Cases

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

Re W
Represented a mother in a non-accidental injury fact-finding hearing where the Local Authority sought findings against the mother and/or the father regarding the skull fracture of their baby. After cross examination of the expert witnesses over three days, the Local Authority agreed to withdraw their case against the parents and their application for care orders.

Re L
Junior counsel for a Local Authority in a fact-finding hearing concerning allegations of fabricated or induced illness in a toddler by the mother. Findings of FII were made.

Re W
Represented a Local Authority in an application for a Deprivation of Liberty Order where the Local Authority, holding the ICO under the jurisdiction of England and Wales, sought to place the child in Scotland.

Re D
Represented a mother in care proceedings. After successful cross-examination of the social worker, the social worker conceded that the children should not have been removed at the beginning of the proceedings and should be returned to the parents as the allegations of non-accidental injury had very likely been fabricated by one of the children. Children returned the next day with a Family Assistance Order.

Re W
Represented Local Authority in applications for care orders, FMPO and FGMPO. Issues included applying for the return of the children from a non-Hague Convention country.

Re N
Represented mother in private law matter with a Guardian appointed for the children. The mother made allegations of domestic abuse and physical abuse of the children which were proven at a fact-finding hearing. Specific Issue Order application considered for temporary leave to remove.

M v F & SM (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008) [2017] EWHC 2176 (Fam)
Katherine Duncan, instructed by Mills and Reeve, acted for the second respondent in the application for a parental order in relation to a child born as a result of a gestational surrogacy arrangement between the applicant and her former partner, where the child was born to a surrogate mother. Wardship continued until the law changes to permit applications for parental orders by a single applicant.

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Notable Cases & News

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Training and Seminars

Katherine has provided training on thresholds and fact-finding hearings, and on relocation and temporary leave to remove from the jurisdiction.

She has also provided advocacy training to trainee solicitors and is very happy to run these sessions.


Katherine was the elected the Chair of the Bar Council’s Young Barristers Committee for 2020. This was a busy and varied role representing the interests of barristers in their first 7 years of practice to the Ministry of Justice, HMCTS, the judiciary, government and senior leadership of the profession. This was a particularly challenging year as the profession responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Legal and Professional Development Grant

Ede and Ravenscroft Prize 2014

Major Scholarship from Inner Temple for BPTC 2013

Major Scholarship from Inner Temple for GDL 2012

Merit Scholarship from University of Aberdeen 2008-2012


  • Kaplan Law School, BPTC (Very Competent)
  • University of Law, GDL (Commendation)
  • University of Aberdeen (First Class Honours)

Professional Membership

  • Family Law Bar Association
  • Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC)
  • South Eastern Circuit

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

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