Jessica is regularly instructed in public law proceedings, acting on behalf of local authorities, parents and children through their Guardian. Her practice encompasses a wide range of issues which includes but is not limited to: domestic abuse; non-accidental injury; neglect; drug/alcohol misuse; sexual abuse; parents and children with disabilities, and child abduction. Jessica also has experience in cases involving deprivation of liberty and secure accommodation.
Jessica is experienced in drafting case summaries, threshold documents, skeleton arguments and schedules and summaries of findings.
Recent cases include:
- Represented a local authority in a long-running case involving non-accidental injuries to a baby. This included at a 15-day fact-finding hearing and at the subsequent multi-day final hearing, each involving cross-examination of multiple experts.
- Represented a local authority in a five-day final hearing where the plan for the children was one of adoption. This involved preparation of written questions in advance for a vulnerable witness.
- Represented a parent in proceedings where a non-subject child had made allegations of sexual abuse against the parent. The case involved applying for the child to be called as a witness and preparation of questions to be put to the child.
- Represented the child in an urgent application for a deprivation of liberty.
Jessica has extensive experience representing parents and extended family members in private children matters. She is regularly instructed in sensitive and highly emotive private children cases including those with allegations of domestic violence, rape and parental alienation, and private law cases with a public law dimension. She is equally adept in cases involving specific issues such as change of name or school and prohibited steps.
Jessica has a particular interest in matters with an international element and has experience of advising and representing parties in internal and international relocation cases.
Recent cases include:
- Represented a grandparent as an intervenor in a fact-finding hearing involving allegations that they had sexually and physically abused the child. The allegations were withdrawn during the fact-finding hearing.
- Represented a parent in a multi-day fact-finding hearing involving allegations of coercive control and physical abuse. Multiple findings were made against the other party.
- Represented a parent facing allegations of coercive control and domestic abuse. No findings were made.
- Represented a parent at final hearing and in subsequent successful appeal proceedings in their application for contact.
Re Z (Disclosure to Social Work England: Findings of Domestic Abuse): Social Work England sought disclosure of a private law fact-finding judgment as part of its ongoing investigation into a father’s fitness to practise. Disclosure had been refused. The decision was appealed by the mother. Jessica represented SWE following an invitation for them to intervene. The appeal was successful. Knowles J also gave some observations about the process to be observed in cases of disclosure to regulatory bodies. The judgment is available here.
Re Y (Leave to oppose adoption)  EWCA Civ 1287: Jessica was led by Malcolm MacDonald representing the mother in the first remote hearing before the Court of Appeal involving litigants with profound hearing difficulties. The parents had been granted permission to oppose the making of an adoption order, which was appealed by the local authority. The appeal was dismissed. The Court also confirmed that, in the absence of updating guidance from the President in relation to hybrid or remote hearings, the guidance in Re C  EWCA Civ 128 applies. The judgment is available here.