Kate Spence

Kate Spence - Barrister at St John's Buildings

‘Ms Spence is very thorough and well prepared on all of her cases. She is an excellent advocate and her knowledge and understanding of the law is excellent. She is very good with clients and explains things simply and clearly. She is robust in her advocacy and dealings with other parties.’ Legal 500 2021 – Rising Star

Kate read law at the University of Manchester and was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in October 2013. Kate practices in all areas of children law.


  • Bar Council – representative for self-employed counsel under 7 years’ practice.
  • Family Law Bar Association
  • Association of Lawyers for Children
  • North Eastern Circuit
  • Personal Injury Bar Association


  • Family - Children

    Public Law

    Kate is regularly instructed on behalf of local authorities, parents and children at all stages of public law proceedings, including final hearings, fact-finding hearings and appeals.

    Kate has experience of drafting case summaries, detailed threshold documents, skeleton arguments and schedules of findings.

    Kate is frequently instructed to represent local authorities, parents and children at urgent interim care order applications or emergency protection order applications at short notice in cases involving serious neglect, non-accidental injuries and domestic violence.

    Kate has experience of providing detailed written advice in relation to remedies under the inherent jurisdiction, designation arguments between local authorities and prospects of success.

    Recent cases:

    A Local Authority v C (2020): Represented the local authority in a legal argument relating to the interim placement of children outside of England and Wales.

    A Local Authority v P (2020): Represented the local authority in a lengthy and complex case involving allegations of serious abuse and control of children.

    A Local Authority v B (2019): Represented a local authority in a series of appeals brought by respondent parents against the making of a placement order. This involved drafting a number of skeleton arguments in relation to both legal and factual disputes which arose within the appeals.

    A Local Authority v F (2019): Appeared for a parent in an application by a local authority to remove a child from their care. Kate drafted a detailed skeleton argument opposing removal and appeared at the contested hearing.

    A Local Authority v P (2019): Advised a local authority in a case concerning the deprivation of liberty of children.

    A Local Authority v D (2019): Represented the local authority in a case concerning a non-accidental injury to a child.

    A Local Authority v D (2018): Represented the respondent in an appeal against a decision of a lay bench to decline an application for a residential assessment.

    A Local Authority v W (2018): Represented the Local Authority in a case concerning a non-accidental injury to a child. Kate pursued findings despite significant opposition from all of the other parties. All of the findings Kate pursued were made following a contested hearing.

    Recent Publications

    Private Law

    Kate regularly acts for parents in disputes over contact and residence. Kate has experience of acting in applications for child arrangements orders, specific issue orders (e.g. to change a child’s surname) and prohibited steps orders.

    Kate is particularly passionate about resolving disputes and attempting to agree practical arrangements that are workable for the parties going forwards.

    Kate has represented applicants and respondents in cases involving allegations of serious domestic violence, child abuse and sexual violence.

    Kate is also regularly instructed to represent children in private law proceedings.

    Recent cases:

    M v T (2019): Kate represented the children in a private law matter, which evolved into public law proceedings as a consequence of the extreme hostility between the parents.

    K v C (2019): Kate appeared at a multi-day fact-finding hearing on behalf of a mother. Kate secured the findings sought by the mother.

    B v M (2019): Appeared at a contested hearing on behalf of a parent facing allegations of parental alienation.

    R v W (2019): Appeared on behalf of a mother at a fact-finding hearing involving allegations of serious sexual abuse, physical violence towards a child and domestic violence. Kate secured all of the findings sought by the mother.

    R v W (2019): Appeared on behalf of a mother and obtained a substantial costs award against a respondent.

    M v D (2018): Appeared in the High Court to represent a father in a dispute between the parents regarding whether the child should receive medical treatment.

    M v T (2018): Appeared on behalf of a father seeking parental responsibility for and contact with his child. Kate obtained the orders sought. Within these proceedings, Kate also successfully argued that a specific issue order should be made to change to the child’s surname.


    “Kate is a very approachable barrister and when confronted with a rather difficult private law case handled it with ease. With so many issues to resolve, the time taken by Kate in preparing before each hearing was very impressive. The level of detail included in her preliminary documents ensured that her position was set out very clearly and backed up with relevant legal knowledge. We would not hesitate to recommend and use Kate in the future” – Instructing Solicitor.

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