Domestic violence in a time of COVID - Safe spaces in lockdown

Wednesday 30 June 2021

This webinar is brought to you by barristers from the Garden Court Chambers Family Team and will be chaired by Allison Munroe QC

Date: Wednesday 30 June 2021
Time: 5pm-6.30pm
Venue: Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Family Law

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Domestic violence has increased dramatically over the pandemic. Described by campaigners as 'an epidemic beneath a pandemic' there has been a surge in domestic abuse sufferers reaching out for help. Refuge recorded a 60% increase in calls and messages to its National Domestic Abuse helpline between April 2020 and February 2021, compared to the start of 2020.

Refuge said 72% of these were from women who said they were experiencing violence and abuse, and nearly a fifth said their abuser had threatened to kill them. Isolation, forced coexistence, economic stress, and fears about the virus have escalated pre-existing household tension and violence, as well as creating it. But what happens when domestic violence survivors come forward to seek justice?

Remote hearings during the pandemic have meant survivors no longer have a safe space to attend court. In this webinar, we will explore the practical problems, challenges and realities we have faced as practitioners in the field to secure justice for survivors. Will the new Domestic Abuse Bill and new measures for video hearings, the Cloud Video Platform (CVP), solve confidentiality, safety, and accessibility issues?





Allison Munroe QC, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Allison is a highly experienced family practitioner conducting cases in the High Court regularly. She undertakes complex public law and adoption matters involving non-accidental injuries and serious sexual and physical child abuse. Allison has also represented parents in particular in complex medico-legal matters involving the withdrawing of medical care. She often represents those suffering from mental health impairment or learning disability and has developed a particular expertise in this area. Allison is very experienced in representing parents with physical disabilities, in particular those with visual and hearing impairment. 

Allison also has expertise in cases that have an immigration or international dimension and has been instructed in cases involving unaccompanied minors, parents and children with immigration status issues. This has involved dealing with the interplay between family and immigration law and removing children from the jurisdiction to non-convention countries. Allison is also called upon to advise family solicitors whose clients are facing potential criminal proceedings. She brings her considerable experience as a criminal barrister to cases involving alleged radicalisation and those involving security issues.

James Holmes, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
James's practice covers all aspects of Children's Law. He has a particular interest in public law proceedings including care, supervision and adoption. He regularly appears in the High Court and Family Court on behalf of parents, guardians and local authorities. He also has represented r16.4 Guardians in private law cases. 

James has experience in dealing with cases involving the most serious allegations including; death of/catastrophic injuries to a child, shaken baby, sexual assaults on both adults and children; non-accidental injuries; fabricated induced illness cases; female genital mutilation; and serious allegations of domestic violence. James has recently been instructed on cases before the High Court where issues around the use of Special Advocates and closed material proceedings had to be considered.

In addition, he has been instructed on cases with international elements, including international abduction or threats of abduction; the transfer of jurisdictions; permanent and temporary relocation; and recognition of orders from other jurisdictions. He was recently instructed in a case involving removal from the jurisdiction where FGM is a risk and whether the SSHD can be prevented from removing a child from the jurisdiction.

Luke McLean, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Luke is building a family law practice representing clients in public and private law matters. Before commencing pupillage, Luke worked for a local authority, working on the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse. In addition to thorough cross-examination, Luke’s experience in criminal and public law allows him to give practical advice and solutions in complex cases. Luke has experience dealing with a range of private law matters including matters involving child arrangement’s order’s prohibited steps orders and specific issue orders. He represents individuals at First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointments, Direction Appointments, Fact-Finding Hearings and Final Hearings. Luke has substantial experience dealing with matters involving allegations of domestic abuse and alcohol misuse.

In addition to private law children matter’s Luke has experience dealing with private law family matters involving non-molestation order’s, occupation orders and transfer of tenancy. Luke has been involved with various fact-finding and final hearings under the Family Law Act 1996. Luke has represented clients in proceedings under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and is developing a practice in financial remedy cases. Luke has also successfully represented clients in relation to parties seeking periodic payments for child maintenance and lump-sum payments under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Luke also has experience dealing with public law matter’s acting for both the Parent and Local Authorities. His experience ranges from dealing with hearings in relation to Emergency Protection Order’s, Interim Care Order’s, and Final Hearings. Luke has also acted for a Local Authority in obtaining a last-minute recovery order in the High Court.

Kirsty Richards, Director & Head Of Family Department, National Legal Service Solicitors
Kirsty conducts a full range of family law cases with a specialist interest in all children law (private law disputes and public law cases). She is a member of Resolution and the Association of Lawyers for Children.  Kirsty is also an accredited member of the Law Society’s Children Panel and specialises in public children law proceedings, representing children’s guardians, parents, special guardians and interveners.  She has also worked with the Official Solicitor on many cases.

Kirsty conducts all her own advocacy through to the final hearing stage wherever possible and has a variety of experience of courts within London and across the UK. She specialises in care and supervision proceedings (including all other public children law applications) and has extensive knowledge in dealing with issues of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, non-accidental injury, fictitious illness and neglect. She deals with complex legal issues arising within her cases. She is very thorough in her approach to all cases she works on, whether representing the child/ren through their appointed children’s guardian or a parent/ other respondent involved in the proceedings.  

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