Susan practices in all areas of family law; both public and private proceedings. Although based in London, her practice takes her to courts throughout England and Wales. She has particular expertise in cases involving injury to children, having conducted many cases relating to brain injured babies. A large part of her practice concerns the serious fact finding hearings relating to emotional harm, sexual abuse and neglect.
Notable recent cases involve
- Securing return of children to their parents where the local authority alleged induction or fabrication of illness in one child, requiring surgical intervention over a 12 year period (cross-examining experts about FII – previously known as “Munchausen by proxy”)
- Securing return of two children to a mother who was alleged to have allowed her child to be subject to repeated sexual abuse
- Successfully defending a step-grandparent who faced allegations of causing fractures to a baby
- Representation of parents with significant learning disability, severe psychological problems and depression
- Allegations of poisoning of child over an extended period with prescription drugs and allegations of arson
- Allegations relating to unusual inflicted injuries and sexual abuse of infants and children
- Contested rehabilitation of infant child to her parents in circumstances where an older child of the family died at the hands of a parent; human rights issues were engaged
- An infant death case which preceded criminal proceedings for murder - raising important issues about confidentiality and issues relating to access by the police to expert reports and other material generated by the fact finding process
- Frequent cross-examination of medical experts in relation to the interpretation of brain pathology, neurology, histopathology and radiology
- Fact-finding cases where children have died as a result of inflicted injury or suffered life threatening injuries
- Issues relating to questions of publicity of information from care proceedings to the press and generally
- The use of the inherent jurisdiction to place children over 17 in secure accommodation
- Issues in the Court of Protection relating to urgent interim removal of an elderly adult from home against her will
- issues relating to osteopenia of prematurity and osteogenesis imperfecta in relation to fractures in children
- Court of Appeal decision relating to the adequacy of judgment and case management decisions – representing the Children’s Guardian
She is regularly instructed on behalf of both public bodies and private individuals, and undertakes publicly funded work. Family Finance also forms an important feature of her work; for which she accepts privately paying instructions only.
- MA Hons (Cantab) Law
- Inns of Court School of Law Bar Vocational Course
- Pupillage in London at 13 Kings Bench Walk in personal injury
- Employed by Devon County Council for 6 years post pupillage conducting care proceedings, prosecuting trading standards offences, conducting planning enquiries and prosecuting for Dartmoor National Park Authority and DCC conducting a Boundary Commission for the authority, representing DCC at inquests, advising in relation to statutory functions of the local authority as required – highways, education care home etc., and advising on Adoption Panel. Susan pioneered a training course for social workers in relation to giving evidence within the authority.
- Seconded for one year as Legal Advisor to the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary dealing with a wide variety of issues including civil claims and conducting disciplinary proceedings on behalf of the Chief Constable.
- Transferred to the independent bar in 1994 – one year of general practice including criminal work with Devon Chambers in Plymouth.
- Joined Southernhay Chambers in Devon in 1996 and specialised in public law.
- Joint Head of Chambers from 2004 until 2010.
- Took Silk in 2009 – joined Pump Court Chambers, London, but retains strong links with the West Country through Magdalen Chambers as Associate Member – (Southernhay Chambers merged and became Magdalen Chambers) and having lived in North Devon for nearly 12 years.
- Susan has been heavily involved for many years as a lecturer on Continuing Professional Development courses for lawyers and other professionals throughout the country, on behalf of Pump Court Chambers and Magdalen Chambers.