Areas of Law 

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Court of Protection

Marina Wheeler talking about Syrian Injunctions on Law in Action

Against a background of continuing concern about the Syrian Civil War and the export of terrorism to the UK, Marina Wheeler has been interviewed by Joshua Rozenberg on Law in Action (BBC), about steps taken in the Family Courts to prevent the flight of children and young people to so-called Islamic State in Syria.  By making children Wards of Court or granting care orders to a local authority, the Courts have extended the traditional scope of child protection, sometimes controversially. With the volume of court proceedings likely to increase, and difficult decisions needed about the use of sensitive material, this is a fascinating and fast-moving area of the law.

The interview arose from an article that Marina Wheeler wrote about Radicalism in the Family Courts

Martin Downs has appeared in a series of these cases in the High Court

Martin Downs on Newsnight on the subject of radicalisation

Martin Downs appeared on Newsnight on BBC on Friday 9 October speaking about radicalisation and the advantages and potential problems with obtaining injunctions to prevent young people fighting in Syria or children being taken by their parents to live in territory occupied by Islamic State.

Jordans recently published two articles by Martin Downs on the problems posed by radicalisation - the most recent was Family Law Vol 45 October 2015, "Is preventing violent extremism a facet of child protection?"


Martin Downs in Syrian Civil War Case

Martin Downs successfully represented Brighton and Hove City Council in an application to make a 16 year old boy a ward of Court and obtain orders to prevent him fighting in Syria’s civil war.  The case has been prominently reported by the BBC and other news organisations.

Three of the boy's brothers had gone to fight for the al-Nusra Front - a jihadist group with links to al-Qaeda and two of them had died while the third had been injured but was still fighting in Syria.  The Judge made the 16 year old a ward of Court. He said that the teenager and his brothers could not be named.

Seminar: The Court of Protection, A gilded cage is still a cage

Crown Office Row Brighton is hosting a Seminar on the Court of Protection on Wednesday 7th May.

Lizanne Gumbel QC, Henry Witcomb and Duncan Fairgrieve in Supreme Court cases re Cheshire West on Deprivation of Liberty.

Lizanne Gumbel QC, Henry Witcomb and our door tenant, Duncan Fairgrieve, intervened in these high profile Supreme Court cases, known as “Cheshire West”, which considered whether people who have severe learning difficulties and are placed into care are deprived of their liberty under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They represented the AIRE Centre, which is a charity promoting awareness of rights under European law and assists marginalised individuals.

Martin Downs in Court of Protection case setting out a new approach to deprivation of liberty cases.

Martin Downs represented the Local Authority in a case where the Court of Protection set out a new approach to deprivation of liberty and provided guidance on family members acting as litigant friends in cases where there was a family dispute.

Martin Downs and Jacqueline Roach in the case of E where it was held that English Courts cannot prevent foreign media reporting on a Slovakian boy placed into care in the UK

Martin Downs represented the Local Authority and Jacqueline Roach the child before the President of the Family Division in the case of E [2014] EWHC 6. The President has widely circulated this judgment which has significant practical implications for all cases involving families from other EU countries.

Martin Downs in Court of Protection Forced Marriage case

Martin Downs represented a Local Authority in the Court of Protection in the case of a learning disabled woman who was encouraged by her family to marry a student subject to immigration control. The civil ceremony went ahead after the Registrar General overruled an objection made by the Local Authority despite the fact they had the benefit of a Consultant’s opinion. The couple had a child together. The Judgment is available here

Sydney Chawatama in a Court of Protection case on the capacity of a woman with mental health problems to have an abortion.

A woman with a bipolar disorder had planned a pregnancy with her husband. To protect her baby she ceased taking drugs to treat her disorder and then decided she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. Her husband and medical advisors believe she does not have capacity to take this decision because of paranoia stemming from her disorder. After sitting for 2 days the judge has decided that she does have such capacity. Sydney Chawatama was representing her husband in this case.

Members practising
in this area:



* Based in Brighton