Shaun is a family law specialist. He has extensive experience of proceedings involving complex issues of law and/or fact including cases involving allegation of serious inflicted injuries, sexual abuse and fabricated or induced illness. Shaun has particular expertise in relation to the use of the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court, for example, in relation to the use of Wardship or in relation to issues of Deprivation of Liberty.
Shaun also has a broad private law practice with a particular emphasis on complex disputes often involving an international element (relocation/abduction), parental alienation, domestic abuse and cultural and religious issues. Shaun’s practice also includes cases involving surrogacy, co-parenting arrangements and issues arising out of the breakdown of same sex relationships.
A (A Child) (Injunctive Relief) (Rev1)  EWFC B53
Shaun represented the subject child in these proceedings where the court found significant failings on the part of the local authority in respect of its removal of a child, who was the subject of a care order, from family members. The court considered the legal framework and gave guidance in respect of the correct application of the National Minimum Fostering Standards.
The judgment is available on bailii. The case was also subject to reporting in the Liverpool Echo.
Warrington Borough Council v W (Care Proceedings: Jurisdiction)  EWFC 68
Represented the local authority in these proceedings concerning a child who is a national of the Republic of Gabon. Mr Justice MacDonald considered for the first time the relevant legal framework in respect of the jurisdiction of the court to conduct care proceedings following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom for the European Union and the end of the relevant transition period. The court determined, inter alia, that the relevant date for the purposes of establishing habitual residence for the purposes of the 1996 Hague Convention is the date of the hearing, rather than the date of the commencement of proceedings. The judgment is available here.
MBC v AM & Ors (DOL Orders for Children Under 16)  EWHC 2472 (Fam)
Led by Lorraine Cavanagh QC in their representation of three of the four local authorities in cases selected to test the point as to whether the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction could continue to authorise a Deprivation of Liberty of a child under the age of 16 in an unregistered children’s home after the introduction of Regulation 27A into the Care Planning, Placement and Review (England) Regulations 2010. MacDonald J concluded that the jurisdiction survives. The judgment is available here.
Re P (Interim Separation)  EWCA Civ 499
Successful appeal against the decision of a Circuit Judge in relation to an application to remove of young child from parental care on an interim basis. The judgment is available here.
X v Y (Restraining Abuse of Children’s Guardian)  EWHC 2139 (Fam)
Application granted by Mr Justice MacDonald for an injunction restraining a parent from publishing the name of the children’s guardian following the conclusion of proceedings. The judgment is available here.
A Local Authority v W (No.2) (Finding of Fact Hearing)  EWFC 68
Shaun Spencer and Helen Crowell appeared for the local authority in this case which concerned the near fatal collapse of a young child who sustained extensive brain damage. The judgment is available here.
B (A Child) (Designated Local Authority)  EWCA Civ 1673
Successful appeal under s.31(8) and s.105(6) Children Act 1989 against a decision to designate the local authority as being responsible for administering a care order in respect of a child. Led by Nick Goodwin QC. The judgment is available here.
A Local Authority v W & Ors (Application for Summary Dismissal of Findings)  WLR(D) 327,  EWFC 40
Macdonald J determined that within care proceedings, the court has no separate power to summarily dismiss disputed findings sought outside its case management powers. Mr Spencer appeared for the local authority against leading and junior counsel for each of the parents. The judgment can be read here. The case was covered in Local Government Lawyer.
Re AA (Children) & 25 Ors  EWFC 64
Shaun represented the children in four of the linked sets of proceedings within this multi-party public law litigation which was described by the Judge as appearing to be the largest public law family case to be litigated. He was led by Jo Delahunty QC. The judgment can be read here.
Re D (Fact-finding appeal)  EWCA 2302
Shaun and Karl Rowley QC represented a father who had been accused of inflicting a sexual injury on his child and who was exonerated after successfully applying to re-open the finding. The judgment is available here.
Re C (A Child)  EWCA CIV 1777
Appeared for the appellant in the Court of Appeal and was successful in arguing that the first instance decision should be overturned. Led by Karl Rowley QC. The case has been published on BAILII.
M (Deprivation of Liberty in Scotland)  EWHC 1510 (Fam)
A decision of Macdonald J in which he identifies a potential gap in the law as between the jurisdictions of Scotland and that of England and Wales in regards to the use of the inherent jurisdiction to deprive children of their liberty. Led by Frances Heaton QC. It is reported on BAILII and has been subject to comment on Family Law Week.
A City Council v LS  EWHC 1384 (Fam)
Represented KS, a 17-year-old who was deemed to be at risk of grave harm due to his involvement with an Organised Crime Gang. The Local Authority sought the authority to place KS in secure accommodation. The application was successfully resisted on the basis that to do so would be an impermissible exercise of the inherent jurisdiction. Read the judgment here. Shaun was asked to write an article about the case which was published by Lexis Nexis. You can read the article here.
Rochdale v Z, B and J  EWFC 102
Hayden J: Consolidated final hearing. Acted for the two siblings of a young baby who had died in sudden and suspicious circumstances. Complex pathological evidence. Read the judgment here.
Re K  EWHC 2311 (Fam)
A fact finding hearing in respect of the death of a baby who, it was alleged, had been asphyxiated.
Re A-F (Children)  EWHC 138 (Fam) and Re A-F (No.2)  2129 (Fam)
Representing the local authority. Series of test cases considered by the President of the Family Division in relation to legal and procedural issues arising in regards to the Deprivation of Liberty of children by local authorities.
Re S (Child as parent: Adoption: Consent)  EWHC 2729 (Fam)
A decision of Mr Justice Cobb setting the relevant information that a child parent must understand to be competent to consent to the adoption of her child. The test is equally applicable to adults applying the Mental capacity Act 2005 principles.
Re T (a child) v A Local Authority  EWCA Civ 1797
Appeal against a decision to make a placement order allowing for the adoption of one child in a sibling group of three and special guardianship orders for the other two, where all three children are to remain living together with the prospective adopters.
RY v Southend Borough Council  EWHC 2509 (Fam) (22 May 2015)
Representing the local authority in a successful application, pursuant to s.35 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, for the return of a child who had been placed for adoption.
Re CM v Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council  EWCA Civ 1479 (Court of Appeal)
Represented a mother in care proceedings at first instance and was led by Karl Rowley QC on the appeal against the making of a placement order in circumstances where the local authority proposed a concurrent search for both an adoptive and a long term foster care placement.