Mary-Rachel’s practice covers a broad range of social welfare law, including community care (adult and children’s social care), housing and mental capacity law.
Mary-Rachel has a particular interest in children’s and women’s rights. She regularly acts in urgent judicial review proceedings for children who are street homeless or otherwise in need of support or accommodation. She was recently instructed as junior counsel (led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC), acting for 45 complainant core participants in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
In 2018, Mary-Rachel was awarded a Pegasus Scholarship by Inner Temple. She travelled to New Zealand for two months to work for YouthLaw, the country’s only dedicated law centre for children and young people.
Mary-Rachel also recently acted for Humanists UK in the Supreme Court case In the matter of an application by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, concerning access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland. She was led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, instructed by Janet Farrell of Bhatt Murphy. The case attracted significant media coverage.
Prior to joining the Bar, Mary-Rachel worked as a paralegal in the youth justice and strategic litigation team at Just for Kids Law, where she worked on the 'Still a child at 17' campaign with Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Martha Spurrier and Kate O’Raghallaigh, which led to a change in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 in order to extend vital safeguards to 17 year olds in police detention. She also worked on Just for Kids Law’s interventions in the case of PD v Merseyside Police  EWCA Civ 114, which held that children are entitled to an appropriate adult when they are being stripped by the police for their own protection, and in the landmark Supreme Court case on joint enterprise, R v Jogee [UKSC 2015/0015].
Mary-Rachel is committed to equal access to justice for all, and has been actively involved in the Justice Alliance campaign against ongoing cuts to legal aid since its inception in 2013.
Mary-Rachel regularly advises and acts in judicial review proceedings relating to the provision of accommodation and support to vulnerable adults and children, under the Care Act 2014 and Children Act 1989.
Mary-Rachel is happy to undertake work on an urgent basis where required. She frequently acts in urgent judicial reviews for children who are street homeless or otherwise in need of support or accommodation; or for disabled adults without appropriate care packages. Mary-Rachel is often instructed on behalf of migrant families affected by the exclusions under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. She has successfully secured interim relief for vulnerable children and their families in a number of claims.
Mary-Rachel is able to advise on issues arising from asylum support provision. She regularly appears as a pro bono advocate at the First-Tier Tribunal (Asylum Support) on behalf of the Asylum Support Appeals Project, and represents claimants with both physical and mental health difficulties in the First-Tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber).
Mary-Rachel is fast developing a housing law practice in the county court which includes advising and representing tenants in relation to possession proceedings; disrepair; unlawful eviction and tenancy deposits.
Her possession work includes defending tenants on a range of public and private law grounds, as well as dealing with disabled clients or those who lack capacity to litigate.
Mary-Rachel is keen to receive instructions in homelessness matters.
Mary-Rachel frequently appears in the Court of Protection on behalf of local authorities and individuals in personal welfare and property cases, as well as challenges against deprivation of liberty authorisations.
Mary-Rachel is also regularly instructed in the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) to represent detained patients.
Mary-Rachel is currently instructed as junior counsel (led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC), acting for 44 core participants in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse
Mary-Rachel frequently acts in urgent judicial review proceedings under the Children Act 1989 and the Care Act 2014, and has obtained favourable settlement terms for clients challenging government decision-making on public law and human rights grounds.
She was recently instructed by Hodge Jones and Allen as junior counsel to Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC in a judicial review against the London Borough of Islington for its failure to accommodate a vulnerable 14 year old boy when police requests were made, despite legal obligations to do so. The case was supported by the award-winning charity, Just for Kids Law as part of its #NoChildinCells campaign, which calls for an end to the widespread practice of detaining children in adult cells in police stations.