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 on 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, both in the courtroom and beyond, aimed at 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 wide-ranging 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 specialise in complex and developing areas concerning the rights of children, including female genital cutting (FGC) 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 played key roles in important cases before regional and international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the European Union, 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 of the Children Act 1989. We have brought ground-breaking challenges concerning the rights of children in the criminal justice system and of 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. They 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 frequently 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, discrimination, and challenging exclusions from school.

Our members assist migrant and refugee children and have been involved in challenges to age assessments of accompanied asylum-seeking children carried out by local authorities, as well as 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 as well as 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 on the part of healthcare staff during pregnancy and delivery. Chambers members have appeared in inquests involving the deaths of children and young people supported by local authorities, in custody or mental health settings, 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 bring claims to hold institutions and public bodies to account on behalf of survivors of child sex abuse, and bring challenges concerning the failure to remove children from abusive homes.

We offer expertise in cases where family law intersects with children’s rights, including with regard to forced marriage, as well as public law proceedings on 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, work on behalf of Nigerian  children accused of witchcraft, child soldiers, and children with disabilities. Members have also brought actions before a range of UN and regional complaints bodies.

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