Welcome to the new Doughty Street Chambers Children’s Rights Group, which brings together barristers from across all practice teams. Although the Children’s Rights Group is new, our commitment to children’s rights is not: since Chambers’ foundation, our members have acted in many of the leading cases in children’s rights in the UK, regional and international courts. Reflecting this, the Children’s Rights Group has a particular focus on innovative legal advocacy, in the courtroom and beyond, aimed to securing the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Doughty Street Chambers offers extensive expertise across numerous child rights-related areas and has recent experience in bringing ground-breaking litigation for and concerning children in public law, extradition, immigration, mental health, community care, prison law, trafficking, education, criminal justice, clinical negligence and inquests. Many of our members also specialise in complex and developing areas concerning the rights of children, including FGM and children, abortion rights for vulnerable teenagers, unaccompanied minors’ rights, the education rights of children in custody, inclusive education for disabled children, children’s effective participation in criminal trials and the rights of LGBTQI children.

Beyond the domestic context, our barristers have also played key roles in important cases before regional and international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Many of our members are involved in training on children’s rights issues for different stakeholders, as well as advising on law and policy reform in the field of children’s rights. Others are actively involved in academic writing, making major contributions to child rights scholarship both in the UK and elsewhere.

Why is Doughty Street the UK’s leading child rights chambers?

Our public law, housing and community care teams have been involved in major cases concerning carers’ rights, challenges to elements of welfare ‘reform’ such as the benefit cap, as well as challenges to failure to provide support under sections 17 and 20 Children Act 1989. We have brought ground-breaking challenges concerning the rights of children in the criminal justice system and children in and leaving custody.  

We regularly act on behalf of children in matters involving criminal law, prison law and actions against the police, including difficult cases concerning prison suicide, the use of restraint in Young Offender Institutions, and the use of police powers in relation to children within the criminal justice system. Members of our criminal team are experienced in representing children and young people at trial and at the appellate level and have especial expertise in cases which involve intermediaries and complexities surrounding mental health and learning disability. Many of our criminal practitioners have led public law challenges relating to youth criminal justice, including the use of youth conditional cautions and youth court procedure. 

Our Court of Protection and mental health teams regularly represent 16 and 17 year olds as well as their parents in the Court of Protection.

Members of Doughty Street regularly represent children and young people in education cases, including matters involving special educational needs, disability rights and discrimination and challenging exclusions from school. In this context, we have significant experience of acting for vulnerable and disabled children.

Our members assist migrant and refugee children and have been involved in challenges to age assessments of accompanied asylum seeking children by local authorities and challenges involving asylum support to destitute families. Our barristers have appeared in key cases involving refugee children separated from their families across Europe. Members of our immigration team regularly represent accompanied asylum-seeking children in claims for international protection and children facing the deportation of a parent from the UK. Our extradition barristers have appeared on behalf of children in challenges to a parent’s proposed extradition from the UK. We have extensive expertise in assisting trafficked children in different legal contexts, including when they are defendants in criminal proceedings, where immigration and asylum issues arise, in public law challenges concerning unlawful decision-making or failures to provide support, and in unlawful detention, false imprisonment and civil claims against public authorities and traffickers.

Our clinical negligence team have experience of challenging negligence of healthcare staff during pregnancy and delivery. Chambers members have appeared in inquests involving deaths of children and young people supported by local authorities, in custody or mental health, have worked to provide sensitive representation for families of disabled children who have died.

Our members have been involved in actions seeking redress for historic child sex abuse. Several of our members are involved in the Independent Child Sex Abuse Inquiry both as Counsel to the Inquiry team and on behalf of participants.

We offer expertise in cases where family law intersects with human rights and in particular children’s rights including with regard to forced marriage, and public law proceedings including allegations of radicalisation and child neglect.

Reflecting our experience in using international law instruments, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in a range of different legal contexts, members of Chambers have contributed to the promotion and defence of children’s rights globally. This has included, including work on behalf of Nigerian ‘witch’ children, child soldiers, and children with disabilities. They have also brought actions before UN bodies.

To find out more and see the Group members, please click here.

Upcoming Events

Monday 8 July 2019a multi-disciplinary conference (1.30pm - 7pm) to mark the 30th anniversary of the UNCRC. Speakers include Professor Aoife Nolan (University of Nottingham and Doughty Street Chambers), Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC (Doughty Street Chambers), Dr Laura Janes (Howard League for Penal Reform), Professor Helen Stalford (University of Liverpool), and members of the Doughty Street team. Topics will include child rights after Brexit, child-friendly justice, children in custody, children's rights and the ECHR, child migrants and unaccompanied minors, and more. 

Monday 7 October 2019: a seminar to mark the 30th anniversary of the Children Act 1989 and the protection of ‘children in need.’ Speakers include Ben Ashcroft, Every Child Leaving Care Matters.

Wednesday 20 November 2019: Universal Children’s Day Inaugural Lecture, to be delivered by Doughty Street's Professor Geraldine Van Bueren QC, with an introduction by our Chair for the evening, Lord Kerr, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

To be added to the mailing list for these events, please email events@doughtystreet.co.uk.