James Hay and Natalie Turner conclude long-running ACTO weapons-theft Court Martial

James Hay, leading Natalie Turner, recently concluded long-running Court Martial proceedings representing a Coldstream Guardsman accused of stealing to sell thousands of items classified as Attractive to Criminal and Terrorist Organisations from the RQMS.

The Crown’s case as initially pleaded alleged that the Guardsman, over many years, systematically stole thousands of items including rifle parts, magazines, grenade parts, tricorn ACOGs, machetes, field equipment, headsets, defibrillators, body armour, webbing and uniform.

The investigation began following an ‘anonymous tip-off’ to the RMP, and led to a raid of the defendant’s home address where the aforementioned volume of equipment was discovered.

After many months of disclosure requests and defence-instructed expert examination of the seized equipment, a Basis of Plea was agreed which led to (remarkably given the way that the allegation had been opened initially by the Service Prosecuting Authority), the defendant Guardsman receiving a Service Community Order for his conduct.

James and Natalie were instructed by Alphie Doran of Levales Solicitors.

Members of Lamb Building’s established Military Law Team accept instructions to both defend and prosecute in Court Martial proceedings in the UK and abroad.

Members of Lamb Building Criminal and Military Law Teams ranked as Leading Barristers in Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2024

Lamb Building are once again ranked as a Leading Set in the South East:

Lamb Building houses a well-respected criminal team who are frequently instructed as the defence and the prosecution in serious criminal cases. The set’s tenants handle cases involving allegations of GBH, homicide, rape and modern slavery. A recent instruction for the set involved acting for the lead defendant charged with false imprisonment, torture and rape in the Banbury Torture Trial.

“It is an experienced set that is able to deal with a range of complex matters.”

“The clerks demonstrate full commitment to providing representation including out of hours.”

“It all gets done by the clerks with courtesy and professionalism.”

David Corne is the most efficient clerk we deal with across many sets. His service is second to none, he has excellent knowledge and he will go the extra mile to help out.”

Bernard Richmond KC:

“Has a wonderful way with words”

“When you instruct Bernard, you know your case is in safe hands. He is excellent with both clients and juries”

Andrew Selby KC:

“As an opponent he displayed both thorough preparation and a complete insight into his cases. He is a wonderful advocate.”

“He had brilliant tactical judgement and his submissions were spot on.”

“He is a powerful and persuasive advocate who quickly captures the confidence of the court.”

Amy Packham:

“Amy is hard-working and dedicates herself to obtaining the best outcome for clients.”

“Amy has an intelligent approach to her work and is always meticulously prepared. She has a calm and confident advocacy style that powerfully conveys her submissions.”

“Amy is an experienced advocate who is highly respected and has good client rapport.”

James Hay:

“He is an exceptional advocate who has become a military law specialist and displays skill and flair in this area also.”

“His style is appreciated by clients, the judiciary and juries”

Bernard Richmond KC elected 2026 Treasurer of the Middle Temple

We are thrilled to announce that Bernard Richmond KC, our Head of Chambers, has been elected Treasurer of the Middle Temple for 2026. This is an amazing achievement and I know that all members of Lamb Building will join me in offering heartiest congratulations to him. He will be a worthy addition to a long line of eminent Treasurers dating back over 400 years.

Members of Lamb Building’s Criminal Team ranked in Legal500 UK Bar 2024

Once again, members of Lamb Building’s Criminal Team have been ranked as Leading Barristers in this year’s Legal 500 publication:

Christopher Prior – ‘Christopher is the whole package. He is organised, calm, measured and well-organised. He is authoritative and persuasive, and his client care is excellent.’

Amy Packham – ‘Amy is able to master cases of particular complexity involving vast amounts of material very quickly and distil them in such a way as to make them clear and persuasive to juries. She has a calm but steely manner in court that commands the respect of judges and opposing counsel.’

Jonathan Atkinson – ‘Jonathan is a fantastic barrister. His analysis of the issues in a case is astute. His advocacy style is measured and authoritative. When prosecuting, he is firm but fair, and when defending, he is thorough and explores all relevant avenues to assist his client.’

James Hay – Leading Junior – South Eastern Circuit

Janice Brennan receives high honour from Emperor of Japan

We are delighted to congratulate Janice who has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of her tireless work in fostering a strong and close working relationship between Japanese and English Lawyers. The award was bestowed upon her on 5th October 2023 at the Japanese Embassy in London. This is the second honour received by Janice this year; she has also been appointed Reader of Middle Temple for 2023 in recognition of her contribution to the Inn. The Reader plays a significant part in the life of the Inn, particular in its Educational role. The Reader has the privilege and duty to introduce each candidate for call to the Bar on call day. She is also required to give a lecture during her term of office at her “Reader’s Feast” which takes place later this year.

Lamb Building welcomes three new tenants

Following the successful completion of their pupillages, we are delighted that Charlotte Arundale, Ben Hale and Adele Rainsford have each accepted invitations to become tenants. Charlotte and Ben join the Crime Team, whilst Adele has joined the Family and Civil teams.

A win for tenants?

By Rachel Norgate

In April 2019, the government announced that private landlords would no longer be allowed to evict their tenants at short notice, without good reasons to do so. They were effectively contemplating the abolishment of section 21 notices since this date.

In March 2023, the Minister of Housing and Planning indicated that the bill (Renters’ Reform Bill) is to be brought forward by the autumn of 2023.

Section 21 Housing Act 1988

Private landlords can currently serve a section 21 notice, which is more commonly referred to as a “no-fault” eviction notice. This can be served when the landlord and tenants have entered into an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

It enables landlords to be able to recover their properties, even in the absence of any fault from the tenant (no payment of rent for example).

This is in comparison to serving a section 8 notice, whereby the landlord would need to prove that the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement. Examples of a breach include:

  1. Rent arrears of at least 2 months,
  2. Breach of the tenancy agreement,
  3. Damage to the property.

Landlords are still required to give at least 2 months’ notice to their tenants (although a longer notice period may be required where the tenancy is a contractual periodic tenancy), but they need not set out a reason for bringing the tenancy to an end.

If after the serving of a Section 21 notice, the tenant still refuses to move out, the landlord can make an application to court for a possession order.

Provided that:

  1. The correct procedure has been followed, and
  2. The tenant has no defence,

The court will make an order for possession in favour of the landlord, usually within 14 days.

Proposed changes

The Bill proposes to simplify tenancy structures by transitioning all tenancies to periodic, which means that the tenancy will end only:

  1. If the tenant chooses to leave,
  2. If the landlord has grounds to seek possession, under section 8 of Housing Act 1988.

Section 21 would therefore no longer be required and would in effect be abolished.

What does this mean in practice?

This would mean that landlords will always need to provide their tenants with a reason for ending the tenancy.

However, it also means tenants will be able to choose to end the tenancy at any time, as long as they provide two months’ notice to the landlord.

After a tenant has lived in a property for six months, landlords will be able to evict a tenant under “reasonable” circumstances under section 8, which includes:

  1. Redevelopment,
  2. Wanting to sell the property,
  3. Allowing a close family member to move in to rent the property.

The ground for anti-social behaviour will also be strengthened, whereby the landlord can make a possession claim immediately, and the ground would cover behaviours capable of causing nuisance and annoyance.

Whilst the proposal has been in the works for some time, it is now coming closer to being put into effect. Tenants are expected to see this as a win going forward!

Friendly reminder that this article is not to be viewed as legal advice and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.

Ed Carey succeeds in the Court of Appeal – lengthy custodial sentence more than halved

Ed Carey appealed his client’s sentence of 5 years and 8 months for three hotel burglaries worth in excess of £350,000 in total. Ed had been granted permission on three separate grounds: (1) taking irrelevant and/or unsubstantiated matters into account and failing to give proper weight to mitigation; (2) a flawed culpability assessment; and (3) a failure to apply the totality principle.

The Court of Appeal upheld Ground 1 by finding that the Honourable Judge had seemingly not given proper allowance for the Appellant’s “powerful” mitigation. The Court quashed the sentences and imposed a total custodial sentence of 2 years and 6 months.

Nigel Edwards KC joins the Lamb Building Criminal Team

Lamb Building are delighted to announce that Nigel Edwards KC, formerly of 33 Bedford Row, has accepted an invitation to join chambers. His arrival adds yet further strength to our Criminal Team.

Nigel specialises in white collar and serious crime together with regulatory matters. Nigel has a particular interest in the area of confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002.

June Venters KC shortlisted for Family Law KC of the Year 2023

Lamb Building are delighted to announce that June Venters KC has been shortlisted for the Family Law KC of the Year category in the prestigious 2023 Lexis Nexus Family Law Awards.

The award recognises a KC who has made a major contribution to the field of family law through their advice and high-level advocacy, and June Venters is without doubt a worthy winner of this category.

June Venters KC is a pioneering lawyer whose career spans 40 years. She has an extraordinary blend of professional qualifications, expertise, and experience and June remains one of only a few women to have achieved dual qualification as a Solicitor and Barrister, which is testament to her skill as a lawyer and advocate. June Venters KC specialises in family law and routinely appears in the Family Court, High Court and Appeal Courts nationwide.

As the first woman Solicitor appointed to Queens Counsel in 2006, June holds a unique place in UK legal history and is a trailblazer and leader in her field who is fearless in her pursuit for justice and fair representation, and most certainly a lawyer worthy of recognition.

As a respected KC, June, mentors solicitors and junior members of the bar, sharing her wisdom and invaluable experience to help others flourish. June has enriched her own career by attaining numerous additional qualifications, embracing new initiatives, and debating new ideas.

June has an unparalleled number of professional qualifications, awards, accreditations, and her body of work exemplifies her outstanding contribution in her field.

June is also a Family Mediator and Children Arbitrator and she welcomes the opportunity for disputes to be resolved in mediation, believing that an agreement is always favourable to something that is imposed.

Lamb Building would like to wish June good luck at the ceremony on the 27 November at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.

Parachute Signaller acquitted of ‘attempted rape’ in Catterick Court Martial

James Hay represented Signaller acquitted after trial before the Judge Advocate General of allegations initially reported to the guardroom as ‘attempted rape’.

The Signaller had always maintained that the complainant, who approached him on his return from a night out to Merville Barracks, Colchester, had fabricated and exaggerated her account against him to secure her unescorted release from camp.

The 6-person mixed Board acquitted the Signaller of the sexual allegations in short order, and he received a financial penalty for the Breach of Standing Orders.

James was instructed by Amer Ahmad of JD Spicer Zeb.

Can a finding of fact ever be re-opened?

By Rachel Norgate

There has been some uncertainty over the correct approach to adopt when determining whether a finding of fact can or should be re-opened.

This issue has been addressed in the recent case of Re J (Children: Reopening Findings of Fact) [2023] EWCA Civ 465.


This appeal arises from care proceedings about four children, A, B, C and D. The older two are the children of M and F1, while the younger two are the children of M and F2. D, the youngest child, has a degree of disability and developmental delay.

In 2019, F2 was accused of a sexual assault by his stepdaughter A. He was tried at the Crown Court in 2020 and acquitted after both had given evidence. In 2021, in Family Court proceedings between F2 and A’s mother (M), the court made no finding against F2 after a hearing in which A did not give evidence and played no part.

In 2022, an allegation of sexual assault was made against F2 by his daughter D. The local authority took care proceedings. Its case is that the threshold is met on three possible bases: assault on D in 2022, assault on A in 2019, or emotional abuse by M, including by fostering false allegations by D and/or by A.

Meanwhile the children are living with M and contact between F2 and C and D is not taking place. The picture is of a complex and deeply unhappy family situation in which the threshold of significant harm has surely been crossed: the questions for the court are how, and with what consequences. The forensic effect of the earlier family proceedings is that the alleged assault on A is taken as not having occurred.

The court granted the local authority’s application for the fact-finding outcome in respect of A’s allegation to be reopened and a full threshold hearing has been fixed at which she will give oral evidence. F2 appeals. His appeal is opposed by the other parties: the local authority, M, F1, A and the Children’s Guardian.

F2 appealed on five grounds, with the fifth ground asserting that the Judge was wrong to re-open A’s allegations where no “new evidence had emerged which entirely changes the aspect of the case and which could not with reasonable diligence have been ascertained before”. This followed Mostyn J in RL v Nottinghamshire CC [2022] EWFC 13.

The main thrust of F2’s argument was that the new information required to justify a reopening had to relate specifically to A’s allegation. C’s allegation was not new information in relation to A’s allegation; its impact on A, in that she was now willing to give evidence, was not sufficient.

Legal framework

Peter Jackson LJ gave the lead judgment, confirming the law in relation to reopening of fact in children’s cases is settled and found in Re E (Children: Reopening Findings of Fact) [2019] EWCA Civ 1447 and Re CTD (A Child) (Rehearing) [2020] EWCA Civ 1316.

In summary, the test to be applied upon an application to reopen a previous finding of fact has three stages. Firstly, the court considers whether it will permit any reconsideration of the earlier finding. If it is willing to do so, the second stage determines the extent of the investigations and evidence that will be considered, while the third stage is the hearing of the review itself.

In relation to the first stage: (i) the court should remind itself at the outset that the context for its decision is a balancing of important considerations of public policy favouring finality in litigation on the one hand and soundly-based welfare decisions on the other; (ii) it should weigh up all relevant matters, including the need to put scarce resources to good use, the effect of delay on the child, the importance of establishing the truth, the nature and significance of the findings themselves and the quality and relevance of the further evidence; and (iii) above all, the court is bound to want to consider whether there is any reason to think that a rehearing of the issue will result in any a different finding from that in the earlier trial. There must be solid grounds for believing that the earlier findings require revisiting.

Ultimately, the appeal was dismissed.

The court recognised that this reopening application raised difficult issues. It was made by an entity that was not a party to the earlier family proceedings and it was not prompted by a concern about the integrity of the previous finding in isolation.

Rather, the judge had to grapple with the ramifications of granting or refusing the application for a just disposal of care proceedings concerning four children who are caught up in a damaging family breakdown.

The object of the proceedings is to protect the children from further harm and to achieve a soundly based welfare outcome. The extent of the investigation that is necessary to achieve that was a matter for the court’s judgement, applying correct legal principles and taking account of all the circumstances.

In reaching the decision to dismiss the appeal, the Court of Appeal analysed the case of Re RL.

Re RL involved an application by a mother to reopen a finding, made five years previously, that injuries to a baby had been inflicted by her or by the child’s stepfather. It was not a strong application and, after a careful analysis of the facts, Mostyn J dismissed it. However, his judgment contains a lengthy exegesis of the doctrine of res judicata in family proceedings, leading to a different version of the applicable test for reopening findings.


The Court of Appeal were clear in their conclusion that the approach of Re RL is wrong and should not be followed.

Two main reasons were given for this decision:

  1. A judge’s main responsibility is to decide the case in hand. The High Court and the appeal courts may also give rulings on matters of law to ensure that the law is correct, accessible to litigants and the public, and expressed in a way that is helpful to trial judges. This additional responsibility is not a vehicle to pursue a legal theory or to run the rule over binding decisions of higher courts, all the more so where the issue does not arise in the individual case. The analysis in Re RL was, and could be, of no legal effect: see Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council v KW [2015] EWCA Civ 1054, [2015] WLR(D) 425. Decisions that reformulate a binding legal test or set up a different test are bound to be cited to trial judges and operate as a distraction and a drain on resources, as exemplified by the need for this appeal.
  2. More fundamentally, it is a misconception that the time-tested approach to reopening findings of fact in children’s cases has been arrived at in ignorance or defiance of the principles of res judicata in civil proceedings. There is rightly considerable consistency in the response of all courts to attempts to relitigate (see for example Re W at [28], cited at paragraph 9 above) but formulations cannot be cloned from one context to another without regard to their effect. Proceedings about children take place in the context of a statutory welfare imperative and, as the present appeal shows, reopening applications may arise in a very wide range of circumstances. In order to achieve just, welfare-based outcomes in these cases, the law operates a test that differs for good reason from a test identified in another context. The formulation in Re RL originates in the decision in Phosphate Sewage Co Ltd v Molleson (1879) 4 App Cas 801, which arose from efforts to relitigate a claim in bankruptcy, but Re RL and the present case required the court to evaluate the very different considerations that arise in cases of child welfare. The applicable law is clear and there is no need to unsettle it for the sake of theoretical conformity by transposing a test devised in a different legal context.

Whilst some lawyers might not agree with the above conclusions, it will provide some clarity and certainty as the correct approach to be adopted in the future.

Friendly reminder that this article is not to be viewed as legal advice and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.

Download the Article as a file here

Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and Royal Yeomanry Soldiers Acquitted of Fighting in the Falkland Islands

James Hay and Anthony Waller represented two of the three soldiers accused of Fighting other soldiers and airmen in the 12FAC reception outside the Dolphin Bar and Corporal’s Club in the Mount Pleasant Complex.

Following the seven-day, three-handed Court Martial, the Board returned Not Guilty verdicts against James and Anthony’s clients. The proceedings attracted a great deal of national press attention as well as social media debate.

The case also involved a successful submission of ‘No Case to Answer’ relating to a separate charge alleged against the HCMR soldier James represented.

James and Anthony were both instructed by Jonathan Lynch of Lynch Law.

Members of Lamb Building’s established Military Law Team accept instructions to both defend and prosecute in Court Martial proceedings in the UK and abroad.

Service Civilian Courts: Can they impose Sexual Harm Prevention Orders?

By Charlotte Arundale

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order prohibits an offender or defendant from doing anything described within the order. They can be made by both the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court. The purpose is to protect the public or specific individuals from sexual harm committed by the offender or defendant. They can also be made to protect children or vulnerable adults from sexual harm committed by the offender or defendant outside of Britain. Sexual Harm Prevention Orders can be made on conviction, where a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity or is suffering from a disability, or by police application. Breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order is an offence (Halsbury’s Laws of England, Sentencing and Offender Management, Volume 92 (2021), Chapter 250).

This article explores whether Military Service Civilian Courts are able to impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order as a form of sentence.

What is a Service Civilian Court?

The Service Civilian Court is somewhat similar to Magistrates’ Courts within the civilian jurisdiction. The Service Civilian Court is a military court which tries minor offences which have allegedly been committed by officials attached to Military Services overseas or dependants and family members of military personnel who reside overseas (as per www.armylegalservices.co.uk). Cases are heard by a single Judge Advocate. Generally, the court can try any Service offence committed by a civilian who is subject to service discipline at the time of the offence, providing that the alleged offence was committed outside of Britain and the offence is not indictable only. There exists a right of appeal from the Service Civilian Court to the Court Martial. The Service Civilian Court does have jurisdiction akin to that of a civilian Youth Court, however this article will solely focus on the sentencing powers which are available when the court is dealing with adults (JAG Master Combined Sentencing Guide, Version 6, 2023, para 2.5).

Sentencing powers specifically available to the Service Civilian Court:

As per section 283 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, the maximum sentence that can be imposed by the Service Civilian Court is no more than 6 months imprisonment. Where the court imposes two or more terms of imprisonment to run consecutively, the total must not be more than 12 months’ imprisonment.

The explicit sentencing options available to the Service Civilian Court are set out at paragraph 4.4.3 within the Guidance on Sentencing in the Court Martial (2018), Version 5. These are:
I. Imprisonment;
II. Fines;
III. Service Community Order;
IV. Overseas Community Order;
V. Service Compensation Order;
VI. Order for a Conditional Discharge;
VII. Order for an Absolute Discharge.

In addition to this specific range of sentencing powers, the Service Civilian Court is also furnished with the same sentencing options as the Court Martial, save for where the maximum sentence available to the Service Civilian Court would be exceeded (Halsbury’s Laws of England, Armed Forces, Volume 3, 2019, Chapter 588).

Sentences available to the Service Civilian Court by extension of the sentences available to the Court Martial.

The full range of sentences available to the Court Martial can be found in the Master Combined Sentencing Guide, Guidance on Sentencing in the Service Courts, Version 6, issued by the Judge Advocate General and effective from the 1st of June 2023.

The critical point is that the Court Martial has the power to issue a Sexual Harm Prevention Order under section 232A of the Armed Forces Act 2006 and section 137 (2) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This is confirmed in both the 2023 Master Combined Sentencing Guide (version 6, paragraph 4.19), and within its predecessor document where it is stated that in relation to ancillary orders for sexual offences “the court may also impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order in the appropriate terms” (2018 JAG Sentencing Guidelines 2018 (version 5, paragraph 5.10.4). Even though applying to the Court Martial, as discussed above, this also extends to Service Civilian Courts under section 232 (A) of the Armed Forces Act 2006.

It is important to note that the Court Martial is also able to “pass the full range of custodial and non-custodial sentences available in the Crown Court (with the exception of Proceeds Of Crime Act Orders and disqualification from driving) and an additional range of sentences available under the Armed Forces Act 2006…” (as per judiciary.uk).

Within the Crown Court, the Sentencing Council Explanatory Materials on Ancillary Orders explains that a Sexual Harm Prevention Order can be imposed for any person who has been convicted of an offence listed in Schedule 3 or Schedule 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Under section 137 (1) a of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, a reference to a court order…includes a finding by a service court. As stated in chapter 24 of Banks on Sentence “violent and sexual offences may call for similar treatment, whether in a military or civilian context”.

Therefore, if not already clear under the old section 232A of the Armed Forces Act 2006, because a Sexual Harm Prevention Order is open to the Crown Court, it follows that it is also available to the Service Civilian Court as it is afforded the same sentencing powers as the Court Martial.

Concluding remarks:

It appears to be the case that the Service Civilian Court is able to impose Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Orders of a similar nature. This is because the sentencing option is available within the Court Martial and the Crown Court, and therefore the implementation of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order or similar Order should, by virtue, also be at the disposal of the Service Civilian Court. This further mirrors the position in the civilian courts, whereby a Sexual Harm Prevention Order can be made in both the Magistrates’ and Crown Court.

Charlotte Arundale
Second-Six Pupil at Lamb Building.

Reminder: This article is not to be viewed as legal advice and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.

Lamb Building has a strong Military Law Group, for more information please see: https://www.lambbuilding.co.uk/practice-area/military-law/courts-martial-military-law-group/


Download the Article as a file here

Andrew Selby KC secures unanimous acquittals on murder and manslaughter

Andrew Selby KC secures unanimous acquittals on murder and manslaughter for his 19 year old client after 6 week trial at Oxford Crown Court.

CCTV showed his client placing a balaclava over his head seconds before the fatal stabbing before pursuing him down a busy Oxford street.



Amy Packham secures acquittal for rape on behalf of vulnerable client

Amy Packham has secured an acquittal for rape on behalf of a vulnerable client who waited 3 years for the outcome.

In cross examination the first complaint witness admitted that the complainant had told her that she had wanted to be alone with the defendant and was attracted to him. She also admitted that the complainant had asked her not to tell the police certain things, because ‘it might make it all look very different’. The complainant had denied really important aspects of the defence case which the complaint witness agreed for the first time in court.

Anne Faul secures unanimous acquittal for client in sexual assault case

Anne Faul instructed by the Ms Emma Randall of the Purkiss Partnership, secures acquittal (unanimous verdict) for her client who was indicted to stand trial in respect of an offence of sexual assault of a child under 13, contrary to section 7(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

It was the prosecution’s case that the Defendant had sexually assaulted his granddaughter in law who was 12 years old. The case included the pre-recorded cross examination of the complainant pursuant to Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

TOLATA 1996 and proprietary estoppel in civil and family cases – a review

Seminar on 7th June 2023

Speakers will be Andrew Morrell & Gary Hodkinson on civil and Seamus Kearney on family. The seminar will commence at 6.15pm and be held at the Sherrard Room in Middle Temple. Anyone interested in attending should email clerks@lambbuilding.co.uk. As this is a hybrid event, you can also attend via Zoom.

Download the accompanying document here:

Ed Hand secures acquittal for soldier accused of sexual assault

After a 3 day trial at Bulford military court centre, Ed Hand defending Pte “R” of 44 Sqn RLC, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, secured an acquittal following a successful submission of no case to answer.  The soldier had been accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague at Sandhurst but the trial Judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence for the case to proceed and directed the Board to acquit Pte R.  Chambers were instructed by Levales Solicitors.

Ed is part of an established Military law team at Lamb Building who accept instructions to defend and prosecute court martials.

Article: Possession of an offensive weapon in a private place, almost strict liability

It is well established that it is an offence to be in possession of an offensive weapon in a public place without reasonable excuse.

In 2019, Parliament went further by enacting The Offensive Weapons Act. Effective from the 14th July 2021, under section 46 of the Act it was made an offence for a person to possess an offensive weapon in a private place.

What constitutes a private place is anywhere that amounts to a domestic premises. This is largely self-explanatory and, of course, it includes people’s homes, their garages, and gardens (section 141 (1F) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988). Looking at the legislation, it simply means a place which is not a public place, school or further education premises or a prison (section 141 (1C) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988).

Although legislating within our homes, the Offensive Weapons Act does not go quite as far as some might fear.  The Act only applies to specific offensive weapons which are set out in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 (SI 1988 No. 2019). To name a few, this includes:

  • Knuckle dusters;
  • Swordsticks;
  • Death stars;
  • Swords with a curved blade of over 50 centimetres;
  • Zombie knives;
  • Cyclone knives.



The following defences apply to those who are found to be in possession of an offensive weapon in a private place (as set out within section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988).

  • The weapon is of historical importance;
  • The weapon is to be used for historical re-enactments;
  • The weapon is to be used for sporting activities;
  • The weapon is to be used for theatre, film, or television purposes;
  • The weapon is possessed on behalf of a museum or gallery, or is lent or hired by a museum or gallery for proper purposes;
  • The weapon is possessed for religious reasons;
  • The defendant (who has possession of the offensive weapon) is carrying out functions on behalf of the Crown or a visiting force.

Furthermore, under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 (SI 1988 No.2019) Schedule 1, the offence specifically does not apply to the following weapons:

  • Weapons considered to be antiques which are over 100 years old (paragraph 2);
  • Swords with curved blades of 50 cm or more which were made before 1954 or made at any other time according to traditional methods of making swords by hand (paragraph 3 b).

Crucially, it should be noted that having a reasonable excuse does not operate as a defence for those who have an offensive weapon in a private place. This is contrary to the position afforded to those who find themselves charged with having possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, where having a reasonable excuse does amount to a statutory defence.



The Sentencing Council are yet to release a set of guidelines in relation to this offence within a private setting.

The only indicator available for those charged with having an offensive weapon in a private place is that the maximum sentence is 51 weeks imprisonment or a fine, or both as set out in section 141 (1A) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

 Although it is tempting to use the sentencing guidelines for the possession of an offensive weapon in a public place as a starting point, it should be kept in mind that the public element makes the offence much more serious and therefore the two offences should not be considered as running parallel.

Additionally, for the purposes of mandatory minimum sentences, practitioners should be clear that the offence of possessing an offensive weapon in a private place does not constitute a relevant offence. It does not engage the mandatory minimum sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment where it is a second or further offence. The mandatory minimum sentence regime only applies to those offences which are public facing or committed on school premises.



At present we are in a situation whereby possessing an offensive weapon in a private place is almost a strict liability offence. Unless you are a museum, gallery, the military, or using the weapon for theatre or film purposes, you cannot possess an offensive weapon in the privacy of your own home.

Although this may appear harsh, ultimately the strict legislative position is tempered by the fact that the offence only applies to those specific weapons contained within Schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 (SI 1988 No. 2019). It does not extend to basic household items, such as kitchen knives, and there does exist exceptions for religious swords and articles of historical importance.

The group left without protection are those who are in possession of the offensive weapon who originally had the intention of disposing of it but subsequently forget that they have the item. Considering the legislation as it stands, this factor would only amount to significant mitigation at best.  The defence of reasonable excuse does not apply and forgetfulness also does not amount to a defence for possessing an offensive weapon in a private place.

It is suspect whether the position we are left in was the true intention of Parliament. Nonetheless, we find ourselves in a situation whereby more defences are available to those in possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, than those with the same weapons in private.


Charlotte Arundale

Second-Six Pupil at Lamb Building.


Reminder: This article is not to be viewed as legal advice and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.



Article: Back to basics- when should a Non-Molestation Order be granted and in particular, when is an ex-parte order required?

Mrs Justice Lieven DBE has sought to clarify and remind practitioners of the applicable law for Non-Molestation Order applications under the Family Law Act 1996, in the recent case of DS v AC [2023] EWFC 46.

Applications of this nature are frequently made (including on an ex-parte basis), and substantially increased during the pandemic.



The Applicant, who was acting in person, applied for an ex-parte NMO on the 8th of November 2022.

The parties started a relationship in October 2021 and the relationship ended by WhatsApp on the 16th of September 2022. They met through a professional networking group and the applicant also worked part time in the respondent’s business at the end of their relationship.

The applicant’s statement specifically says that the respondent was not verbally (or physically) abusive or violent towards her. She felt he was controlling, including by buying her extravagant gifts and accusing her of not being grateful. She said he was increasingly demanding in terms of her answering his calls and being available. As the relationship went downhill the respondent texted her up to 30 times a day, and they had an argument about whether he flirted with a waitress. By September they were seeing each other less, although the applicant thought the respondent was manipulating her into drinking too much.

On 16 September the applicant ended the relationship by text, saying she would take formal steps should the respondent contact her again; she then blocked him. The respondent tried to call her a few times and on 18 September he sent an email, which Lieven J found to be rather sad; she did not agree with the applicant that it was threatening.

There was a financial dispute between the parties; the respondent took the applicant to the “small claims court” about money allegedly owed to him and the applicant counter-claimed in respect of wages due. On 3 November the respondent emailed the applicant to say that he had paid the wages. Although the email said that he was hurt and angry, the judge considered it “entirely appropriate”.

The applicant stated that she was applying ex parte because the respondent’s behaviour was unpredictable and that if he was on notice he might try to dissuade her from pursuing her application. A District Judge refused to make an ex parte order and listed a hearing on notice. The respondent attended the hearing but the applicant did not, so her application was dismissed.

The applicant emailed the court to explain her non-attendance and asked for her application to be reinstated. A directions hearing was listed before Lieven J to decide whether the application should be allowed to proceed.


Relevant legal framework

The Judge sets out the statutory test (S42 of the Family Law Act 1996) and the relatively sparse number of reported cases on the matter.

At paragraph 23, the following applicable key principles are confirmed:

On a without notice application the court must consider whether there is a risk of significant harm attributable to the Respondent if the order is not granted immediately, s.45(2)(a);

  1. And whether the Applicant would be deterred or prevented from making the application if the order is not made immediately; s.45(2)(b);
  2. A without notice order should only be made in exceptional circumstances and with proper consideration for the rights of the absent party, R v R at [1];
  3. The Court should use its powers under the FLA with caution, particularly at a one -sided hearing, or necessarily on a paper consideration without the other party having notice, R v R at [1];
  4. “molestation” does not imply necessarily either violence or threats of violence, but can cover any degree of harassment that calls for the intervention of the court, Horner v Horner at 51G;
  5. The primary focus of the court should be upon the “harassment” or “alarm and distress” caused to those on the receiving end, Re T (A Child);
  6. There does not have to be a positive intent to molest, Re T at [42].



As Mrs Justice Lieven stressed at paragraph 24 of the judgment:

It is important that these principles are applied properly, and orders are not simply granted by default. In particular, it is important for all concerned to note that a without notice application should only be made in exceptional circumstances where there is a risk of significant harm. If a without notice application is made, then the statement in support must expressly deal with why the case is exceptional and what the significant risk alleged is. There can be no doubt that far too many such applications are made where there is no reasonable basis to grant the application without notice.”

Whilst it is imperative for applications of this nature to be granted where there is sufficient evidence of molestation and a significant risk of immediate harm, all applications and accompanying evidence requires scrutiny at an early stage.

In this case, there was no proper basis for an order to be made because there was no evidence that the conduct was sufficient to justify the intervention of the court. Orders are not to be granted where the evidence suggests that there is some upset at the end of a relationship.

Although there does not have to be a positive intent to molest, subjective distress alone is not enough to justify an order. In this case, the respondent had sent excessive texts and emails at the end of the relationship but he had stopped before the application was made.

The Judge therefore refused to reinstate the applicant’s application.

Friendly reminder that this article is not to be viewed as legal advice and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.


Rachel Norgate

4th of May 2023

Father succeeds in Court of Appeal case represented by June Venters KC

Specialist family law barrister, June Venters KC, representing the Father in medically complex care proceedings, has succeeded in the Court of Appeal (7th March 2023) in having an earlier judgment set aside and for the case to be re-heard by a newly allocated Judge.
The Appeal arguments focused predominantly on three key points:

1. Unfairness – on the basis that findings made by the Judge at the original hearing did not form part of the Local Authority’s case. Those findings were that either the Father had abused the child or the Mother and Father together had abused the child.

Never throughout the proceedings had it been a feature of the case that the Mother and Father together had abused the child. Further, the Local Authority had never pursued such a finding as evidenced by their “opening” “closing submissions” and exchange with the Judge at the conclusion of her judgment.

As a consequence, this meant that the parents had been deprived of the opportunity of:
• Answering questions about it
• Presenting opening and closing submissions

2. Wider Canvass – it was argued that the Judge had placed too much weight on the medical evidence, which was both inconsistent and which had not been acknowledged in the judgment. In doing, she had not considered the “wider canvass” which had clouded her judgment.

3. Lack of Medical Data – both parents argued that the child has been accidentally infected with Gonorrhoea by fomite [infected material such as a bath sponge] but because of the lack of medical data on this they were unable to provide evidence on this point (it is known that, in principle, the disease can be transferred in this way).

Full written judgment is expected in a few weeks, which may also clarify the law on cases involving “pool findings”.
During the hearing June Venters KC raised the point that the Judge had conflated the conventional finding of an individual on the balance of probabilities with a pool finding which is on the basis of a “real possibility”. Lord Justice Jackson in Re B 2019 paras 46 and 47 had made clear how a court can make a pool finding and that a pool finding is not possible for one. Therefore, if it was accepted that the joint finding of the parents acting together was unfair and couldn’t stand, the court couldn’t simply leave the father in the “pool” as there couldn’t just be one person in a pool finding.

View the full report here.

James Hay represents RAF Air Specialist (Class 1) acquitted of Sexual Assault in Catterick Court Martial

Following a Court Martial before a 6-person mixed RAF and Army Board, the AS1 was acquitted of Sexual Assault.

The AS1 was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow airman in the smoking area outside a packed bar on station.

The accused had always maintained that his behaviour did not amount to sexual conduct, and the Board this week found in his favour having heard evidence from seven witnesses.

James was instructed by Rabin Govindarajah of The Purkiss Partnership.

James Hay represents Army Captain acquitted of Sexual Assault

James Hay represented a REME Captain this week acquitted of Sexual Assault, with allegations being made in the months following a Mess dinner.

The 6-person Board swiftly returned their Not Guilty verdict this afternoon.

The Captain was not made aware of the allegation against him until his Adjutant notified over seven months after the event that the RMP wished to speak with him.

A comprehensive prepared statement was advanced in interview, with the result that the Board were directed not to draw any adverse inference from his subsequent silence in interview.

James was instructed by Ruth Cassidy of Levales Solicitors.

Article: Freeze!


A recap and summary of  J v H [2022] EWFC 133, which was a case involving the Husband’s (‘H’s) application for a freezing order.

The relevant background to this application is as follows:

  1. The parties were engaged in financial proceedings following the end of their marriage,
  2. On the 12th of October 2022, H gave 1 hours’ notice that he intended to make an urgent application to restrain the Wife (‘W’) from dealing with her overseas assets,
  3. Prior to this, H through his solicitors, wrote to W asking them to sign undertakings agreement not to dispose of any assets currently held in their name,
  4. The application for a freezing order was adjourned until the 19th of October 2022 and then again to the 25th of October 2022 for determination by Mr Justice Peel.

Relevant legal framework

In short, a freezing order is an order which prevents a party disposing of or dealing with their assets.

UL v BK (Freezing Orders: Safeguards: Standard Examples) [2013] EWHC 1735 sets out the relevant principles and safeguards for an application of this nature:

i) The court has a general power to preserve specific tangible assets in specie where they are the subject matter of the claim. Such an order does not necessarily require application of all the freezing order principles and safeguards, although it is open to the court to impose them.

ii) For a freezing order in a sum of money which is capable of embracing all of the respondent’s assets up to the specified figure it is essential that all the principles and safeguards are scrupulously applied.

iii) Whether the application is made under the 1981 Act or the 1973 Act the applicant must show, by reference to clear evidence, an unjustified dealing with assets (which would include threats) by the respondent giving rise to the conclusion that there is a solid risk of dissipation of assets to the applicant’s prejudice. Such an unjustified dealing will normally give rise to the inference that it is done with the intention to defeat the applicant’s claim (and such an intention is presumed in the case of an application under the 1973 Act).

iv) The evidence in support of the application must depose to clear facts. The sources of information and belief must be clearly set out.

v) Where the application for a freezing order is made ex parte the applicant has to show that the matter is one of exceptional urgency. Short informal notice must be given to the respondent unless it is essential that he is not made aware of the application. No notice at all would only be justified where there is powerful evidence that the giving of any notice would likely lead the respondent to take steps to
defeat the purpose of the injunction, or where there is literally no time to give any notice before the order is required to prevent the threatened wrongful act. Cases where no notice at all can be justified are very rare indeed. The order of the court should record on its face the reason why it was satisfied that no or short notice was given.

vi) Where no notice, or short informal notice, is given the applicant is fixed with a high duty of candour. Breach of that duty will likely lead to a discharge of the order. The applicable principles on the re-grant of the order after discharge are set out in Arena Corporation v Schroeder at para 213.

vii) Where no notice, or short informal notice, is given the safeguards assume critical importance. The safeguards are set out in the standard examples for freezing and search orders. If an applicant seeks to dis-apply any safeguard the court must be made unambiguously aware of this and the departure must be clearly justified. The giving of an undertaking in damages, whether to the respondent or to an affected third party, is an almost invariable requirement; release of this must be clearly justified.

Analysis and conclusion

This application came about after W removed the sum of $18,000.00 from a joint account. W went on to explain the purpose of the withdrawal and that the funds would be returned forthwith.

Within correspondence before the application was made, W confirmed that she did not intend to take any action to deal with or dispose of her assets other than for personal and business purposes. H continued to make the application, initially only giving an hour of notice.

Mr Justice Peel concluded:

[19] Put simply, I am of the view that the evidential justification for H’s application is thin. There is little in terms of objective evidence to indicate a solid risk of dissipation of assets. Mere suspicion, or anxiety, on H’s part is not sufficient. I am not satisfied that there is any basis upon which to assert that W by her actions was and is seeking to defeat H’s financial claims.

[20] At para 52 of UL v BK, Mostyn J said this:

“Finally, I draw attention to the great concern of myself and other judges at the continued widespread abuse of the principles governing ex parte applications not only for freezing orders but also more generally. It is worth remembering not only that the ex parte procedure is intrinsically unfair but also, and very importantly, that a case which begins with an ex parte order is usually poisoned from that point onwards. The unilateral step taken at the beginning of case echoes down its history. Often the respondent is enraged by the step taken against him and looks to take counter-offensive measures. Every single subsequent step is coloured by that fateful first step. Costs tend to mount exponentially. And even after the lawyers close their files and render their final bills the personal relations of the spouses will likely remain forever soured”.

[21] Those words continue to ring true. True, the application was not made without notice, but with only 1 hours’ notice to W it was to all intents and purposes a unilateral step. There is no novel point of law in this case, nor are the facts themselves particularly notable, although the wealth is far beyond that of most people. But this case is a salutary reminder to practitioners, if reminder is needed, that the legal and procedural pre-requisites of a freezing order application, or s37 application, as set out in UL v BK must be complied with before the court will be willing to entertain granting such an order.

[22] I also take the view that the application was defective in two particular respects, although ultimately this has not influenced my decision on the substantive merits:

      • The application was supported by a witness statement, yet PD20A para 3.1 of the Family Procedure Rules 2020 mandates that “Applications for search orders and freezing injunctions must be supported by affidavit evidence (emphasis added)”, in contra distinction to other forms of interim injunctions which must be supported by either a witness statement or the application notice provided it is verified by a statement of truth; and
      • The draft order put before Morgan J made no provision for W’s costs of living, the school fees for the parties’ child (which W had always paid) and W’s legal fees, all of which should have been included as standard exceptions to the full rigours of the proposed freezing order.

[23] The application is dismissed. Morgan J was, in my view, entirely correct to refuse to make the order at the first hearing, and the unsustainability of the application became even clearer when W subsequently produced her evidence. W has offered a form of wording to be incorporated by way of recital which (with some amendments by me) I reproduce as:

      1. “W states that she has no intention to withdraw funds from her investment portfolio.”
      2. “W states that she no intention to sell, mortgage, charge, or otherwise deal with the property.”
      3. “W agrees to give H 7 days’ notice in writing of any intention to (a) withdraw funds from her investment portfolio AND/OR (b) sell, mortgage, charge, or otherwise deal with the property.”
      4. “W considers that as a matter of law she is beneficially entitled to 100% of the property, and in any event expects and intends that the transfer of legal title into her sole name shall be registered as soon as practicable”.

I consider that her agreement to include these clauses in the preamble to my order is constructive and pragmatic

Mr Justice Peel made a costs order against H, which is not to be enforced until the conclusion of the financial remedy proceedings. This was with the view that the debt would likely be deducted from any final award.

Friendly reminder that this article is not to be viewed as legal advice, and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.


Rachel Norgate

21st March 2023

Anne Faul Secures Unanimous Acquittal in Trial

Anne Faul, leading Daniel Darnbrough instructed by Andrew Smith of SBS solicitors, secures acquittal (unanimous verdict) for her client who was charged with wilful neglect of her son, contrary to section 1(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. This was a three-week trial.

The Defendant was accused of failing to seek medical attention for her son, who was aged 21 months. The child suffered a catastrophic head injury, (subdural haemorrhage and bilateral retinal haemorrhages). It was the prosecution’s case that the Defendant’s then partner was responsible for the child’s injuries. However, the Defendant must have known that her son had been injured in some way due to his presenting symptoms. The prosecution’s case consisted of complex paediatric and neurological medical evidence.

Article: Causing death by dangerous driving: two important recent decisions

In January 2023, the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) handed down two judgments which provide authoritative guidance to judges and practitioners dealing with the offence of causing death by dangerous driving, contrary to section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The cases concern two separate yet important issues of principle, with which practitioners should be aware.

R v Holder [2023] EWCA Crim 5

The defendant, who was 17 years old at the time, was riding a stolen motor scooter in West London with a pillion passenger who was 14 years old. The defendant lost control of the motor scooter whilst travelling between 37 – 44 mph and collided with the kerb. The motor scooter overturned and both riders were propelled from the back. Tragically, the pillion passenger was killed.

The issue for the jury was whether the defendant’s driving was dangerous. Under s.2A(1) of the 1988 Act, driving is dangerous if, and only if:

(a) the way he drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and;

(b) it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

s.2A(3) states that ‘in determining…what would be expected of, or obvious to, a competent and careful driver in a particular case, regard shall be had not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.’

One of the factors that the prosecution sought to rely on to prove that the driving was dangerous was the fact that neither the defendant nor his passenger were wearing protective helmets.

At the commencement of the trial, the defence sought to exclude reference to the fact that the passenger was not wearing a helmet on the grounds that it was prejudicial and irrelevant to the standard of driving. In addition, it was submitted that the legislative exemption from wearing helmets for those who followed the Sikh religion under s.16(2) of the 1988 Act meant the absence of a helmet could not be relevant to the standard of driving. This argument was rejected by the trial judge and was challenged on appeal.

In a judgment given by the President of the King’s Bench Division, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of the trial judge. The court noted that, aside from the exemption in s.16(2), it is a criminal offence to fail to wear compulsory protective head gear when riding a motorcycle scooter or moped on the road (s.16(4) RTA 1988). It is also an offence to carry a passenger under the age of 16 who is not wearing protective headgear. The court reiterated that failure to follow the highway code could also be relied on ‘as tending to establish or negative any liability which is in question’ in criminal proceedings and emphasised the broad ambit implied within s.2A(3) RTA 1988.

At paragraph [22], the court held that the failure to wear a protective helmet was relevant to jury’s determination in two ways:

  • In deciding whether and the extent to which [the defendant’s] driving fell below what a competent and careful driver would be expected to do in those particular circumstances, and;
  • In deciding whether it would have been obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous because of the (obvious) risk of injury to his passenger.


Many may consider it a matter of common-sense that failure to wear a protective helmet when driving a motor scooter is ‘dangerous’ in the ordinary sense of the word. Whilst the issue is not as evidently causative to the standard of driving, such as the speed, distance and manner of such driving, the Court’s decision provides clear authority that the issue of protective headgear may be taken into account by a jury when determining whether the driving was dangerous within the meaning of s.2A RTA 1988. Regard must always be had to the particular circumstances of the case, and it would not have been open to the jury to convict on this factor alone. In this case, as the court stated at paragraph 21: ‘This factor was…properly to be considered as part and parcel of the ‘driving.’

Re Soto and Waite [2023] EWCA Crim 55

s.86(2) of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 increased the maximum sentence for an offence under s.1 RTA 1988 (committed after 28th June 2022) from 14 years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment. No revised guideline has yet been published by the Sentencing Council. The cases of Soto and Waite addressed the correct approach to sentencing in the most serious cases of causing death by dangerous driving following the statutory increase in the maximum sentence available.

The sentences imposed in Soto and Waite’s cases were referred to the Court of Appeal by the Solicitor General as unduly lenient, pursuant to s.36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Both cases were very serious examples of their kind. The defendants were considerably over the prescribed limit for alcohol at the time of the accident. Both cases had aggravating features and involved a collision with two people; in Soto those people were sat in a stationary car, in Waite they were pedestrians on the pavement. It should be noted that Mr Soto’s collision caused very serious injury to the other person involved whilst Mr Waite’s did not.

Both cases fell into Level 1 on the Sentencing Guideline, with a starting point of 8 years’ custody and a range of 7 – 14 years’ imprisonment as currently drafted.

Mr Soto was sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving, with an additional 9 months consecutive for breaching a previous suspended sentence order. The sentencing judge was made aware of the maximum sentence available, but it was not mentioned within her sentencing remarks. The Court of Appeal allowed the reference and increased the overall sentence to 12 years’ 9 months imprisonment.

Conversely, in Mr Waite’s case, the sentencing judge did note the increase in the sentence within her sentencing remarks and elevated the starting point within the guideline from 8 years’ custody to 12 years to reflect the change in the maximum sentence available. After aggravating and mitigating features were considered, an overall sentence of 8 years’ imprisonment was passed following credit for the guilty plea. The Court of Appeal declined to interfere with the sentence and permission to refer the sentence as unduly lenient was refused.

The Court reviewed the authorities on the correct approach to sentencing in these circumstances, focusing specifically on Richardson and others [2006] EWCA Crim 3186 and Nugent [2021] EWCA Crim 1835. The Court held that:

  • Applying Richardson and others, sentences for the most serious cases of causing death by dangerous driving must be increased from the levels indicated in Level 1 of the current guideline because offences in Level 1 by definition are the most serious offences.
  • Prior to an update from the Sentencing Council, lower-level offences on the guideline should not be increased.
  • It is for the Sentencing Council to determine the appropriate revised starting point for the most serious offences. Until a new guideline is issued, judges will use the starting point in the current guideline and adjust the sentence to take account of the increase in the maximum sentence.
  • Even where offences fall within Level 1 and were committed after 28th June 2022, the sentencing judge must make their own assessment of the seriousness of the offence and the culpability of the offender. The judge must determine whether the interests of justice require a sentence outside of the category range at Level 1. This is not a mathematical exercise.
  • Whatever decision is reached by the sentencing judge in an individual case, the issue of proportionality with the range of circumstances in which offences of this kind occur must be considered (Richardson and others).


The Sentencing Council has consulted upon an updated guideline for the offence; however, it is yet to come into force. The revised draft guideline, as published on the Sentencing Council website, removes the language of ‘Levels’ and substitutes an approach based on culpability, with a table of factors to determine the offence category at Step 1. Offences of the highest culpability have an increased starting point of 12 years’ custody, with a category range of 8 – 18 years’ imprisonment. Notably, the starting point for medium culpability offences (previously ‘Level 2’) has been increased from 5 to 6 years’ imprisonment, with an updated range of 4 – 9 years’ custody. The starting point and range for lesser culpability offences (previously ‘Level 3’) has not been altered.

Whilst a new guideline is inevitably required, one hopes that a long-awaited guideline for offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, contrary to section s.1A of the RTA 1988 also comes into effect in the near future. Current sentencing practice under s.1A requires the court to use the guideline for causing death by dangerous driving with modifications to account for the fact that the injured party did not die (R v Dewdney [2014] EWCA Crim 1722, or, for a more recent example: R v Brown and another [2021] EWCA Crim 1963]. The offences have a significant disparity in maximum sentences available and it is difficult to estimate how much downward adjustment will, or should, be made to a sentence based on the fact that a significantly injured party survived a collision. The approach has led to a number of appeals against sentence and may continue to do so in the absence of a published sentencing guideline. A draft guideline exists but has not been brought into effect.

Which guideline is published first is a matter entirely for the Sentencing Council. However, it may be that the authority provided by Soto and Waite means that the lacuna that currently exists for offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving under s.1A RTA 1988 presents as a more pressing issue to be addressed by a published guideline.


Benjamin Hale

First-Six Pupil at Lamb Building


Reminder: This article is not to be viewed as legal advice and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.



R v Holder [2023] EWCA Crim 5: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2023/5.html

R v Soto and Waite [2023] EWCA Crim 55:


Draft updated sentencing guideline for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving (s.1 RTA 1988):


Draft sentencing guideline for causing serious injury by dangerous driving (s.1A RTA 1988):


Article: Finally, time to have my say… isn’t it?

The recent appeal of Mother v Father [2022] EWHC 3107 (Fam) explores and confirms judicial case management powers, with an emphasis on when and how the Court will hear evidence.

The mother in this case appealed the decision of a Lay Bench to limit the oral evidence and prohibit either parent being cross-examined.

The pertinent background facts are as follows:

  1. The parties are the Mother (“M”) and Father (“F”) of X, an 8 year old girl. The parents separated in 2019 and X remained living in the family home. The F works close to the family home, whereas the M’s work is some 50 miles further north,
  2. M applied for X to live with her and for her school to be changed from close to the family home to the town where the M was living,
  3. F made a cross application for the child to remain living with him and to remain at her existing school,
  4. Cafcass produced a section 7 report and recommended that the Court make a Child Arrangements Order (“CAO”) that the child live with the F and have contact with M,
  5. M argued that the section 7 report was inaccurate and that there should be a fact finding hearing, which the Court refused,
  6. The matter was then listed for a contested final hearing, with the Section 7 author in attendance.

At the final hearing, the Lay Bench determined that the matter should proceed without either party being entitled to cross-examine the other. M subsequently appealed on three grounds:

  1. First that she did not agree with matters in the father’s statement which went to the case and the welfare of the child and in being prevented from properly challenging these matters the case could not be fairly or properly heard.
  2. Secondly that the bench indicated that the decision not to allow the cross-examination of the parents was on the basis that there were no safeguarding issues.
  3. Thirdly that the bench had prejudged the case and accepted the CAFCASS Officer’s report before the CAFCASS Officer had been cross-examined.

The matter was adjourned to permit the appeal to proceed.


Relevant legal framework

 Family Procedure Rule (“FPR”) 22 is engaged when determining the Court’s case management powers.

FPR 22.1 details the power of the Court to control evidence and FPR 22.6 confirms the use of witness statements at the final hearing.

The Court must always have the overriding objective as set out at FPR 1.1 in mind.

Specifically, when dealing with an appeal of a case management decision, the Court must bear in mind Re TG (a child) [2013] EWCA Civ 5, specifically:

[35] (4) Fourth, the Court of Appeal has recently re-emphasised the importance of supporting first-instance judges who make robust but fair case-management decisions: Deripaska v Cherney [2012] EWCA Civ 1235 , paras [17], [30], and Stokors SA v IG Markets Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1706, paras [25], [45], [46]. Of course, the Court of Appeal must and will intervene when it is proper to do so.

 However, it must be understood that in the case of appeals from case management decisions the circumstances in which it can interfere are limited. The Court of Appeal can interfere only if satisfied that the judge erred in principle, took into account irrelevant matters, failed to take into account relevant matters, or came to a decision so plainly wrong that it must be regarded as outside the generous ambit of the discretion entrusted to the judge: Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc v T & N Limited [2002] EWCA Civ 1964 , paras [37]-[38], [47], Walbrook Trustee (Jersey) Ltd v Fattal [2008] EWCA Civ 427 , para [33], and Stokors SA v IG Markets Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1706 , para [46]. This is not a question of judicial comity; there are sound pragmatic reasons for this approach. First, as Arden LJ pointed out in Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc v T & N Limited [2002] EWCA Civ 1964 , para [47]:

 “Case management should not be interrupted by interim appeals as this will lead to satellite litigation and delays in the litigation process.”

 Second, as she went on to observe:

 “The judge dealing with case management is often better equipped to deal with case management issues.”

 The judge well acquainted with the proceedings because he or she has dealt with previous interlocutory applications will have a knowledge of and ‘feel’ for the case superior to that of the Court of Appeal.

 [36] Exactly the same applies in family cases. Thus in Re C Thorpe LJ and I dismissed the appeal notwithstanding what I said was the “robust view” His Honour Judge Cliffe had formed when deciding to stop the hearing. And in Re B I refused permission to appeal from an order of Her Honour Judge Miranda Robertshaw involving what I described (para [16]) as “appropriately vigorous and robust case management.” I said (para [17]):

 “The circumstances in which this court can or should interfere at the interlocutory stage with case management decisions are limited. Part of the process of family litigation in the modern era is vigorous case management by allocated judges who have responsibility for the case which they are managing. This court can intervene only if there has been serious error, if the case management judge has gone plainly wrong; otherwise the entire purpose of case management, which is to move cases forward as quickly as possible, will be frustrated, because cases are liable to be derailed by interlocutory appeals.”

 As Black LJ very recently observed in Re B (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1742, para [35]:

“A judge making case management decisions has a very wide discretion and anyone seeking to appeal against such a decision has an uphill task.”


 Analysis and conclusion

 Parents involved in proceedings involving their children often wish to have their say or ask the other parent questions. They feel it is their right to give evidence, but the dismissal of the appeal confirms that this is not necessarily true when looking at the Court’s case management powers.

Mrs Justice Lieven DBE dismissed the mother’s appeal confirming that the Court’s decision fell within the scope of their case management powers and discretion.

To summarise the Judge’s reasons for the above decision:

  1. The starting point is that there is no right in any party to cross-examine,
  2. The Court had two statements from the M and one from the F. They therefore knew what the parties’ evidence and positions were. Further, Counsel for the parents could cross-examine the Cafcass officer and, as such, put any material areas of disagreement to her,
  3. It is open to the Bench to consider that this would be a more effective and proportionate way to consider the material, rather than hearing oral evidence from the parents. It should be remembered that the Bench had the parties’ written evidence,
  4. I appreciate that it is hard for parents to accept, but it is likely that a court facing this type of issue will put the most weight on the Cafcass officer’s evidence. They are an independent person with great expertise in this field, and great skill in talking to children,
  5. It was entirely open to the Court to take the view that they needed to hear the Cafcass officer on this matter, but that the oral evidence of the parents would not be of material assistance,
  6. The procedure to be adopted in court is a matter for the judge or tribunal, subject to the basic principles of natural justice and, to the degree it does not overlap, Article 6,
  7. Finally, I note the Bench adjourned the case to allow the Mother to appeal. I fully understand why they took this course, but Courts in this situation should carefully consider whether it would be more effective and proportionate to continue with the hearing and then for any appeal to be based on the substantive outcome. It is possible that the grounds for appeal would thereby fall away, and it would have the obvious benefit of not building more delay into the determination of the case.

The clarity this judgment has provided on case management issues, particularly the necessity of oral evidence,  is likely to be welcomed by Family practitioners, who often have to deal with these types of hearings which have already been severely delayed and are listed alongside other matters.

It will also assist those appearing in a family court to better understand the Court’s role and that the Court is not required to address every single issue and will focus their decision making on the key points relating to welfare.


  1. Friendly reminder that this article is not to be viewed as legal advice, and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework


Rachel Norgate

 30th January 2023

Article: Allegations with a criminal element in the Family Courts

Adele Rainsford, current Pupil, of the Lamb Building Family Team explores how Family Courts handle allegations which involve a criminal element while considering the recent High Court case of A & Anor v B & Ors [2022] EWHC 3089 (Fam).

The Family Courts over recent years have found themselves grappling with the interrelationship between the Criminal law and how such cases should be dealt with in the Family Courts. This has particularly been evidenced in cases where there has been allegations of rape and sexual assault.

It was thought by some that the case of Re H-N and others (Children) (Domestic Abuse: Finding of Fact Hearings) [2021] EWCA 448 had already considered these issues and had provided clear guidance as to how the Family Court should deal with such allegations of criminality. In summary, Re H-N held at paragraph 71:

“The Family Court should be concerned to determine how the parties behaved and what they did with respect to each other and their children, rather than whether that behaviour does, or does not, come within the strict definition of ‘rape’, ‘murder’, ‘manslaughter’ or other serious crimes….

Behaviour which falls short of establishing ‘rape’, for example may nevertheless be profoundly abusive and should certainly not be ignored or met with a finding akin to ‘not guilty’ in the family context. For example, in the context of the Family Court considering whether there has been a pattern of abusive behaviour, the borderline as between “consent” and “submission”, may be less significant than it would be in the criminal trial of an allegation of rape or sexual assault.”

However, despite the guidance given above, in the most recent case of A & Anor v B & Ors [2022] EWHC 3089 (Fam), Knowles J was tasked with grappling with these issues once more and was required to give some further guidance.

The five main issues which were to be considered by Knowles J in this instance were:

  1. Whether the Family Court should apply a consistent definition of (i) rape, (ii) sexual assault or (iii) consent, making clear the difference between consent and submission;
  2. Whether the failure to have a consistent approach to these issues was in breach of Article 6, 8 and 14 rights of the Appellant mothers;
  3. Whether the definitions of rape, sexual assault and consent used in the Criminal Justice System should be either a starting or finishing point for judges in the Family Court;
  4. What the approach of the Family Court should be to a complainant’s sexual history when determining allegations of rape or sexual assault; and
  5. Whether, when determining allegations of rape and/or sexual assault, judges in the Family Court should give themselves a warning about rape myths. Generally, such myths concern themselves with the behaviour or experiences of a complainant.

First and Third Issue:

Knowles J took issue one and three together and found [23]:

In my view, the correct starting point is that the Family Court must not import criminal definitions as an aid to fact-finding. Its focus, as Re R and Re H-N made clear, is to determine how the parents of a child behaved towards each other so as to be able properly to assess risk and determine the welfare issues in each case. I note that Parliament recently passed the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and, in so doing, expressly replicated in the Family Court some provisions applicable in the criminal courts, for example, in relation to cross-examination by litigants in person. However, Parliament declined to legislate for a framework in the Family Court within which to determine allegations of rape and sexual assault: it was not invited to do so during the passage of the Act. In those circumstances, it is difficult to conceive that this court might now attempt to do so….

At first instance, the Family Court determines allegations of rape and sexual assault without a legislative definition or framework. That is consistent with the purpose of a fact-finding exercise in family proceedings, which is to determine only such factual issues as are necessary to assess risk and to illuminate the welfare issues. That approach in private law proceedings is consistent with the approach in public law proceedings in which the Family Court conducts fact-finding in circumstances where, for example, a parent is alleged to have caused the death of a child, or where a parent is alleged to have inflicted injury on a child.

The Appellants placed reliance on examples of variable approaches taken by first instance judges sitting in the Family Court to the factual determination of allegations of rape or sexual assault. It is unnecessary for me to identify the judgments in issue since the relevance of those decisions was not the characterisation of behaviour by reference to concepts of consent or submission to sexual intercourse but rather that the court had accurately determined narrative findings which could inform the subsequent risk and welfare analysis.”

Knowles J continued and referred to Mc Farlane’s LJ judgment (as he then was) of Re R (Children) (Care Proceedings: Fact Finding Hearings) [2018] EWCA Civ 198 at [62]:

“The focus and purpose of a fact-finding investigation in the context of a case concerning the future welfare of children in the Family Court are wholly different to those applicable to the prosecution by the state of an individual before the Criminal court. The latter is concerned with the culpability and, if guilty, punishment for a specific criminal offence, whereas the former involves the determination of acts, across a wide canvas, relating to past events in order to evaluate which of a range of options for the future care of a child best meets the requirements of his or her welfare…

… In family proceedings, the outcome of a fact-finding hearing will normally be a narrative account of what the court has determined on the balance of probabilities) has happened in the lives of a number of people and, often, over a significant period of time. The primary purpose of the family process is to determine, as best that may be done, what has gone on in the past, so that that knowledge the ultimate welfare evaluation where the court will choose which option is best for a child with the court’s eyes open to such risks as the factual determination may have established”.

In short, Knowles J found that a family judge must consider a “wide canvas” and scrutinise the family relationships (whether of adult to adult or adult to child) over a period of time in order to arrive at a factual determination relevant to both risk and welfare. The framework provided by the Appellants in this case, was considered to be too narrowly focused on the specifics of whether a sexual relationship is “willing” or not. In essence, Knowles J concluded that such a framework would simply substitute the word “willing” for “consent” and would be as prescriptive as applying the concepts used in the Criminal Courts. The framework was considered to be a too narrower prism to view and investigate the true nature of an adult relationship.

Knowles J rejected that the Family Court needed to apply consistent definitions of rape, sexual assault and consent by confirming that these definitions “have no place in the Family Court” [32]. She repeated that a focus on seeking to characterise or establish behaviour as meeting a particular definition runs the risk of the court becoming “unnecessarily bogged down in legal technicality” (F v M (Appeal: Fact Finding of Fact) [2019] EWHC 3177 (Fam) [29]).

Second Issue:

Knowles J proceeded to consider the second issue and stated that there was no basis for concluding that the approach of the Family Courts in relation to allegations of rape or sexual assaults was a breach of Article 6,8 and 14. Whilst there was clear jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights as to the positive obligations of the State to protect individuals from domestic abuse, the High Court found that the Appellants had failed to make out a case that the obligation of due diligence translated into an obligation to construct a legal framework in the terms which they had set out.

Fourth Issue:

Knowles J was in agreement that guidance would be beneficial in relation to the introduction of evidence of sexual history as PD 12J did not provide specific guidance on this issue. Hence, Knowles J set out a proposed framework for practitioners to use at paragraph 49 of her judgement:

My starting point is that the established approach to evidence in the Family Court can accommodate circumstances in which a parent, either making or facing allegations of sexual abuse, seeks to adduce evidence of the other person’s sexual history, or their own sexual history or their shared sexual history. To summarise, this involves the following process:

  1. An assessment of the relevance of the evidence for which permission is sought to be adduced, having regard to the need for the court to consider the “wide canvas” of evidence;
  2. Thereafter, where objection is made to such evidence being adduced, a balancing exercise as to the competing interests and Convention rights involved;
  3. At all times, consideration of the breadth of the court’s powers to control the manner in which evidence is to be placed before it.”

Knowles J declined the Appellants argument that there should be a strong presumption against the admission of evidence relating to a complainant’s sexual history with an alleged perpetrator and declined to also declare that the circumstances should be exceptional. Knowles J explored this further at paragraphs [55] and [56] of her judgment:

It also runs contrary to the basic principle that, by adopting an inquisitorial approach, the court requires the best relevant evidence before it to assess both the risk posed by a parent or the welfare best interests of the child. Second, and practically speaking, the Appellant’s approach runs the risk of depriving the court of evidence relevant to its factual determination. I observe that there may well be circumstances in which evidence of sexual history as between partners is relevant to the court’s assessment of the dynamic, their respective patterns of behaviour and the nature of their relationship.

Based on the analysis above, I do not regard it as necessary for a party wishing to rely on evidence of sexual history between partners to make a specific application to the court for permission to do so. Practically speaking, this would add complexity and cost to already contentious children proceedings where a high proportion of litigants are self-representing.”

Knowles J noted that a complainant may also wish to adduce evidence of an alleged perpetrator’s sexual history with other individuals to demonstrate a pattern of allegedly abusive behaviour. Hence, Knowles J provided further guidance to assist judges in case management decisions and offered a procedural framework which was based on that articulated in Re M (A Child) (Private Law Children Proceedings: Case Management: Intimate Images) [2022] EWHC 986 (Fam), namely [58]:

  • “If a party wishes to adduce evidence about a complainant’s sexual history with a third party, a written application should be made in advance for permission to do so, supported by a witness statement;
  • It is for the party making such an application to persuade the court of the relevance and necessity of such material to the specific factual issues which the court is required to determine.
  • Any such application will require the court’s adjudication preferably at a case management hearing.
  • The court should apply the approach set out above at [45]-[49].
  • If a party wishes to rely on evidence about sexual history between partners, they do not need to make a specific application to do so unless reliance is also placed on intimate images. In those circumstances, the party must issue an application in accordance with the guidance at [77]- [78] in Re M (Intimate Images).
  • If a party objects to evidence of sexual history between parents/parties being filed, it should make an application to the court in advance, supported by a witness statement explaining why this material is either irrelevant or should not be admitted.
  • Any such application will require the court’s adjudication preferably at a case management hearing.
  • The court should apply the approach set out above at [45]-[49].”

Fifth Issue:

Knowles J acknowledged that Judicial training is a matter reserved to the Judicial College and that they are best placed to assess what training is needed for those who are tasked with determining factual disputes between parents about the nature of their relationship, especially where those disputes concern allegations of sexual assault. Knowles J highlighted the training already available to family judges which is also set out in the case of Re H-N at paragraphs [67]-[68]:

“Following the judgment of Russell J and at the request of the President, the Judicial College devised a freestanding sexual assault awareness training programme for Family judges. The programme draws heavily on the successful “serious sexual assault” programme for criminal judges. Since July 2020, it has been a mandatory requirement for all judges who hear any category of Family cases to undertake this programme. The programme, which is under constant review, includes elements in respect of psychological reactions to sexual assault and trauma, and has the benefit of contributions having been made by a number of victims of sexual assault discussing the impact that an attack has had upon them. In addition to the more general training in relation to domestic abuse, which is already in place for Magistrates, bespoke training suitable for the work they undertake in respect of sexual assault and trauma is in the process of being developed.

This bespoke Family training these in turn into, and is further developed within, the extensive training programmes that are run in relation to domestic abuse by the Judicial College for the fee paid and salaried judges. These courses have been in place for some years and play a key role in both induction courses for newly appointed Family judges and continuation courses run for Family judges who are already in post” [62].

Knowles J listed some further resources which she had found as assistance in her own practice and drew family judges’ attention to the following:

  • Chapter 6 of the Equal Treatment Bench Book (July 2022) entitled “Gender”. Under a subheading entitled “Sexual Offences: Who is Affected?”, there is information about sexual offences which includes several paragraphs addressing rape myths which may feature in criminal proceedings (see [74]-[91]).
  • The Equal Treatment Bench Book is publicly available on the judiciary.uk website at Equal Treatment Bench Book July 2022 revision (2) (judiciary.uk).
  • Likewise, the CPS Guidance on Rape and Sexual Offences at Annex A provides a comprehensive guide to the unhelpful stereotypes which may cloud judicial thinking in cases involving sexual assault. It too is publicly available on the cps.gov.uk website and was last revised in May 2021: Rape and Sexual Offences –Annex A: Tackling Rape Myths and Stereotypes | The Crown Prosecution Service (cps.gov.uk).

Knowles J also came to the firm view that she should not produce a list of rape myths or stereotypes as no list would ever be comprehensive and would provide a rigid framework. Such a list she considered, would deprive a family judge of the flexibility required in approaching a case.

Finally, (and slightly off topic) Knowles J did remark that in cases where findings of fact are made it is helpful to ensure that they are recorded in writing and ideally appended to the order made as set out by Paragraph 29 of PD12J. This requires a schedule of findings to be attached to the court order following a fact-finding determination to avoid lack of clarity and the details of what is found.

To conclude, it is clear that Knowles J while providing some guidance in respect of the fourth and fifth issues largely upheld the principles of Re-H-N and confirmed that importing criminal definitions into fact finding proceedings has no place in the Family Courts.

Reminder: This article is not to be viewed as legal advice and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework.

Our next article will explore the Court’s case management powers in respect of limiting evidence and the recent case of Mother v Father [2022] EWHC 3107 (Fam) and will be posted on the 30th of January 2023.

16th January 2023

Article: Sanctions for Breach of an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction – an Update

Tim Jones of the Lamb Building Civil Team considers the guidance on sanctions for breaches of Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions set out by the Court of Appeal in Lovett v Wigan Borough Council, Smith v Network Homes Limited and Hopkins v Optivo [2022] EWCA Civ 1631.


In a previous article (link here), I discussed a report by the Civil Justice Council (“CJC”) on the effectiveness of the civil injunction regime under Part 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”).

One of the issues raised by the CJC report was that County Courts were experiencing difficulties in imposing appropriate sanctions for breach of anti-social behaviour injunctions (“ASBIs”).

The County Court’s powers to punish breaches of such injunctions is limited to fines of up to £2,500, imprisonment of up to two years[1] or sequestration of assets.[2]  There are no Sentencing Council guidelines for breach of an ASBI, and the Court of Appeal in Amicus Horizon Limited v Thorley[3] had said that courts should follow the guidelines for breaches of anti-social behaviour orders (“ASBOs”) (which are now subsumed within the guidance for breaches of Criminal Behaviour Orders).  The table from the sentencing guidelines is set out below:


Harm Culpability
1 Starting point 2 years’ custody


1 year’s custody 12 weeks’ custody
Range 1-4 years’ custody


High level community order – 2 years’ custody


Medium level community order – 1 year’s custody


2 Starting point 1 year’s custody


12 weeks’ custody High level community order


Range High level community order – 2 years’ custody Medium level community order – 1 year’s custody


Low level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
3 Starting point 12 weeks’ custody


High level community order


Medium level community order


Range Medium level community – 1 year’s custody


Low level community order – 26 weeks’ custody


Band B fine – High level community order

The problem with asking the County Court to apply the CBO breach sentencing guidelines is that they are based on the assumption that the court can impose community sentences and custodial sentences of up to five years, whereas the County Court does not have the power to do either of these.  The CJC found that this had led many judges to impose suspended custodial sentences in less serious cases simply because the alternative was making no order whatsoever – after all, it was unlikely, in most cases, that the Defendant would have the means to pay a fine or assets to sequester.  This is in spite of case law that says that a suspended custodial sentence should only be imposed if the custody threshold is met to begin with[4], and not simply because the Defendant lacks the means to pay a fine.[5]

The CJC report stated, at paragraph 383, that:

There are three objectives to be considered when dealing with the breach of an order under the 2014 Act: the first is punishment for breach of an order of the court; the second is to secure future compliance with the court’s orders if possible; the third is rehabilitation, which is a natural companion to the second objective.”


Enter the Court of Appeal

On 16 December 2022, the Court of Appeal considered these issues in the case of Lovett v Wigan Borough Council, Smith v Network Homes Limited and Hopkins v Optivo.[6]  In that case, the Defendants had been sanctioned as follows:

  1. Ms Hopkins’ breach consisted of causing alarm and distress to her neighbours through loud banging noises, shouting, slamming doors and shouting and fighting with her partner outside her home. She was sanctioned with 28 days’ imprisonment suspended until 29 April 2023 on condition that the complied with the injunction going forward.  One of her grounds of appeal was that her sentence was excessive. 
  1. Smith was found to have breached a term of an ASBI which prohibited “swearing, shouting, banging, playing amplified sound, or causing any other noise nuisance at [his home], so that it could be heard outside [his home].” 31 breaches were alleged at first, but this was reduced to ten, nine of which consisted of loud music, sounds, or shouting, and one of which consisted of singing and loud conversations.  The judge found nine of the ten allegations proved and made an order committing him to prison for 12 weeks, suspended for 12 months.  One of his grounds of appeal is that the court should have considered making a possession order in the alternative to committal, which, he said, was disproportionate. 
  1. The injunction against Mr. Lovett prohibited him from engaging in conduct likely to cause nuisance, annoyance, alarm or distress to any person in the neighbourhood, and a further term was later added excluding him from an area which included his home between the hours of 6:00pm and 9:00am. By the time he came before the court in relation to the most recent allegations, he had already been found to have breached the injunction 177 times, and he had been committed to prison at least four times between 2017 and 2021; indeed, at his latest contempt trial, he appeared by video link from prison.  The latest tranches of breaches related to 21 occasions on which he had been in his home overnight, and he had been sentenced to a further 30 weeks of custody to run concurrently with the custodial sentence he was already serving.

It should be noted that Mr. Lovett’s grounds of appeal related to the findings of contempt themselves rather than the sentence imposed, and so I will make no further mention of his case here.

The principles

Birss LJ observed a difference between the applicable principles for sentencing in criminal cases and sanctions for contempt, and thus rejected any suggestion in paragraph 383 of the CJC’s report that punishment came first in the order of priority as opposed to securing future compliance, and also said that the Sentencing Council guidelines should be treated carefully:

“33. A key difference is that the objectives underlying penalties for contempt are different from those in crime, at least in the sense of the relative significance of punishment as compared to ensuring future compliance with the order. We refer to paragraph 8 of the judgment of Coulson LJ in Breen v Esso Petroleum [2022] EWCA Civ 1405 with which we agree. This places the emphasis in civil contempt case on the importance of the objective of ensuring future compliance. We refer also to the very recent Cuciurean v Secretary of State for Transport [2022] EWCA 1519 (17 November 2022) and the judgment of Edis LJ at paragraphs 103-108 which also highlights Breen and draws attention to the fact that the statutory purposes of criminal sentencing established by section 57 of the Sentencing Act 2020 do not apply in the contempt jurisdiction (compare paragraph 38 below to s57(2)).

  1.  It follows that the passage in the CJC Report at paragraph 383 which may have been derived from the Sentencing Council guidelines, and could be understood as putting the objective of punishment first in the order of priority, ahead of ensuring compliance, is not right. Moreover the parts of the CJC Report (e.g. Annex 1 first paragraph) which propose that judges undertaking the task of sentencing for contempt regard as relevant the guidance produced by the Sentencing Council, must be treated with care.”

Birss LJ went on to set out the following principles:

  1. Save in special circumstances (e.g. when the breach itself is a criminal offence), the Sentencing Council guidelines can only be relevant in “the very broadest and generalised sense”. Birss LJ noted that the maimum penalty available to the civil court was far shorter than that for a criminal breach of a CBO (two years vs five years), and said that, in general, a civil contempt sanction that exceeded the severity that the sentencing guidelines would have led to was likely to be wrong.
  1. Amicus v Thorley had recommended the use of the then current sentencing guidelines for breaches of ASBOs, which predated the CBO sentencing guidelines and differed from them, and the court was now in a different position having had the benefit of adversarial argument on the point and the CJC report.
  1. The objectives for breaches of ASBIs were, in order of priority, as follows:
  1. Ensuring future compliance with the order
  2. Punishment
  3. Rehabilitation
  1. Suspension and adjournment may also provide an occasion for amendments to the injunction itself, as well as an opportunity to impose a variety of conditions, such as including a positive requirement under Section 1(4)(b) of the 2014 Act.
  1. The maximum term that can be imposed is two years’ imprisonment. One half of the custodial term will be served in prison before automatic release (Section 258 Criminal Justice Act 2003). Time spent on remand is not automatically deducted, so, if credit is given for that, consideration should also be given to doubling the period deducted to take Section 258 CJA 2003 into account.
  1. The concept of a custody threshold is relevant, and custody should be reserved for less serious breaches where other methods of securing compliance with the order have failed.
  1. Totality should be taken into account rather than simply adding up penalties for each individual breach, which would be likely to lead to an excessive total sentence.
  1. If custody is appropriate, the length of the sentence should be decided without reference to whether it should be suspended.
  1. The court retains the option of adjourning for consideration of sentence, which the court can use as an opportunity to speak directly to the contemnor about their behaviour. An indication of what sentence would have been imposed if the matter had not been adjourned is likely to be appropriate, together with a clear statement of what the consequences of good or bad conduct in the intervening period will be. The clarity of a statement about consequences is vital and it is important for judges to avoid making representations they did not intend to make.
  1. Considering the degree of harm and culpability, as per the Sentencing Council guidelines, was relevant.
  1. Having identified culpability and harm, the court can then adjust the sentence by taking into account additional elements which increase or decrease the seriousness of what has happened or amount to personal mitigation. It was impossible to identify all the aggravating and mitigating factors, but history of disobedience and the vulnerability of victims would be aggravating  factors, whereas genuine remorse, ill health, age and lack of maturity might be relevant, as would an early admission of guilt.
  1. Reasons for making adjustments from a starting point should always be identified and their impact explained, albeit briefly. Cogent reasons should be given for going outside of the indicative range.
  1. The court approved the CJC’s proposed grid as set out below:


Harm Culpability
1 Starting point 6 months’ custody


3 months’ custody One month’s custody
Range 8 weeks to 18 months’ custody


Adjourned consideration – 6 months’ custody


Adjourned consideration – 3 months’ custody


2 Starting point 3 months’ custody


1 month’s custody Adjourned consideration


Range Adjourned consideration – 6 months’ custody


Adjourned consideration – 3 months’ custody


Adjourned consideration – 1 month’s custody


3 Starting point 1 month’s custody


Adjourned consideration


Adjourned consideration


Range Adjourned consideration – 3 months’ custody


Adjourned consideration – 1 month’s custody


No order/fine – two weeks’ custody
  1. Finally, the court emphasised that this approach was concerned with breaches of orders under Part 1 of the 2014 Act.


Application to the particular cases


At first instance, the District Judge found that this was a category B2 case, adjourned sentencing for six months, but indicated that the sentence she would impose if not adjourning would be 28 days’ imprisonment suspended for six months.  The Court of Appeal noted that the District Judge had reached this figure by treating six weeks’ custody as the starting point, when, in fact, it should have been 12, though this may have been influenced by scaling between the five-year and two-year maxima.

The Court of Appeal found that the District Judge had been “plainly right” to adjourn sentencing for six months, but the sentence that she indicated she would have imposed had she sentenced on that day was too severe.  The District Judge was wrong to find that it was category B2 as there was a single admission of breach of the order, that breach caused minimal harm, and the remaining allegations had been dropped by the Claimant, meaning the level of harm could not be considered more than “light” as per category 3.  Adjourning for consideration should have been the starting point, and an appropriate indication would have been that no order would be made provided no breaches were committed in the meantime.


The Court of Appeal was not persuaded that the District Judge should have considered making a possession order in the alternative to imprisonment, as these were not possession proceedings.

As regards the length of the custodial sentence, the Court of Appeal found that the Deputy District Judge at first instance had been right to categorise the case as B2 but wrong to apply the Sentencing Council guidelines directly, given the disparity in sentencing powers between the civil and criminal courts, meaning that an inappropriately high starting point of 12 weeks’ custody had been applied.



The Court of Appeal has provided welcome clarity and guidance on the issue of sanctions for breaches of ASBIs.  In my view, as stated in my previous article on this topic, the CBO sentencing guidelines were not fit for purpose for the reasons outlined by the CJC and by the Court of Appeal.

Using contempt hearings as an opportunity to amend the original injunction, including by using positive requirements, is a creative approach that goes some way towards compensating for the lack of a power to impose a community sentence.  However, I wonder how frequently positive requirements will be used in practice, given that they are relatively rare to begin with and the requirement for a supervisor will still need to be met.

Mr. Smith’s argument that the court should have considered making a possession order instead of imposing a custodial sentence once again raises the philosophical question of which is more draconian out of eviction and imprisonment, but in my view, the fact that the Court of Appeal in Birmingham v Stephenson[7] specifically said that landlords should consider injunctions in the alternative to possession proceedings as part of the proportionality exercise under the Equality Act 2010 strongly suggests that the law considers eviction to be more serious in this context.

Given that the Court of Appeal specifically said that the aforementioned guidance was only supposed to apply to breaches of injunctions under the 2014 Act, it will be interesting to see what bearing, if any, it has in respect of breaches of injunctions under Section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, nuisance, or tenancy breaches, as such conduct is often of the sort that would constitute anti-social behaviour for the purposes of the 2014 Act.

All views are my own.



[1] Section 14 Contempt of Court Act 1981.

[2] Section 38 County Courts Act 1984; Rose v Laskington [1990] 1 QB 562.

[3] 2012] EWCA Civ 817.

[4] Hale v Tanner [2000] 1 WLR 2377.

[5] Crystalmews Limited v Metterick [2006] EWHC 3087.

[6] [2022] EWCA Civ 1631.

[7] [2016] EWCA Civ 1029.

Article: New Year, New News Section

Happy new year to one and all!

Much like everyone else, Lamb Building Family Team has some of their own New Year goals. One is to provide more frequent updates on the website of the latest news and developments in Family Law.

What better way to start than to jump into the private children sector to answer this age-old question:

To fact-find or not to fact-find, that is the question

Family courts are well-versed in dealing with allegations and cross-allegations of domestic abuse. One of the more difficult decisions for the Court to take at an early stage is how best to deal with these allegations. This involves the Court deciding whether the truth of the allegations is to be formally determined or whether the Court can simply commence the welfare stage analysis.

The starting point must always be Practice Direction 12J.

Paragraph 16 The court should determine as soon as possible whether it is necessary to conduct a fact-finding hearing in relation to any disputed allegation of domestic abuse […]

 Paragraph 17In determining whether it is necessary to conduct a fact- finding hearing, the court should consider – 

  1. The views of the parties, and of CAFCASS;
  2. Whether there are admissions by a party which provide sufficient factual basis on which to proceed;
  3. If a party is in receipt of legal aid, whether the evidence required to be provided to obtain legal aid provides a sufficient factual basis on which to proceed;
  4. Whether there is other evidence available to the court that provides a sufficient basis on which to proceed;
  5. Whether the factors set out in paragraphs 36/37 can be determined without a fact-finding;
  6. The nature of the evidence required to resolve disputed allegations;
  7. Whether a separate fact-finding hearing would be necessary and proportionate in all the circumstances of the case.

 Paragraph 36– In light of any findings of fact or admissions or where DA is otherwise established, the court should apply the individual matters in the welfare checklist with reference to the domestic abuse which has occurred and any expert risk assessment obtained. In particular, the court should in every case consider any harm which the child and the parent whom the child is living has suffered as a consequence of that domestic abuse, and any harm which the child and the parent with whom the child is living is at risk of suffering if a child arrangements order is made. The court should make an order for contact only if it is satisfied that the physical and emotional safety of the child and the parent with whom the child is living can, as far as possible, be secured before, during and after contact, and that the parent with whom the child is living will not be subjected to further domestic abuse by the other parent.

 Paragraph 37In every case where a finding or admission of domestic abuse is made, or where domestic abuse is otherwise established, the court should consider the conduct of both parents towards each other and towards the child and the impact of the same. In particular, the court should consider – 

  1. The effect of domestic abuse on the child and on the living arrangements for where the child is living;
  2. The effect of the domestic abuse on the child and its effect on the child’s relationship with the parents;
  3. Whether the parent is motivated by a desire to promote the best interests of the child or is using the process to continue a form of domestic abuse against the other parent;
  4. The likely behaviour during contact of the parent against whom findings are made and its effect on the child;
  5. The capacity of the parents to appreciate the effect of past domestic abuse and the potential for future domestic abuse.


The case of Re H-N and Others (Children) (domestic abuse: findings of fact hearings) [2021] EWCA Civ 448 re-explored the issue of fact-finding hearings in family courts.

 To summarise some of the key points:

 [4] […] Where past domestic abuse is found to have taken place, the court must consider the impact that abuse has had on both the child and parent and thereafter determine what orders are to be made for the future protection and welfare of parent and child in the light of those findings.

 [8] Not every case requires a fact-finding hearing even where domestic abuse is alleged. […] it is of critical importance to identify at an early stage the real issue in the case in particular with regard to the welfare of the child before a court is able to assess if, a fact-finding hearing is necessary and if so, what form it should take.

 [28] We are therefore of the view that PD12J is and remains, fit for the purpose […]

 [42] For a long time now, the Family courts have not only required a party making allegations of domestic abuse to file witness statements setting out the evidence on which they rely, but also to reduce the allegations made into a ‘Scott Schedule’ to provide an agenda for the fact-finding hearing. PD12J paragraph 19(c) requires the court to consider at an early stage:

 ‘whether the key facts in dispute can be contained in a schedule or a table (known as a Scott Schedule) which sets out what the applicant complains of or alleges, what the respondent says in relation to each individual allegations or complaint; the allegations in the schedule should be focussed on the factual issues to be tried; …’

 [51] […] ‘the overwhelming majority of domestic abuse (particularly abuse perpetrated by men against women) is underpinned by coercive control and it is the overarching issue that ought to be tried first by the court.’ We agree and it follows that consideration of whether the evidence establishes an abusive pattern of coercive and/or controlling behaviour is likely to be the primary question in many cases where there is an allegation of domestic abuse, irrespective of whether there are other more specific factual allegations to be determined. The principal relevance of conducting a fact-finding hearing and in establishing whether there is, or has been, such a pattern of behaviour, is because of the impact that such a finding may have on the assessment of any risk involved in continuing contact.

 [61] When considering domestic abuse, it will not infrequently be the case that the alleged behaviour will be such that it is capable both of being the subject of prosecution as an offence before the criminal courts and being the focus of consideration in the family courts as justification for the implementation of protective measures […]

 [64] […] ‘importation of concepts from the criminal courts to the Family Court’ is ‘inappropriate, unnecessary and unwise, and should be avoided’.


The case of K v K [2022] EWCA Civ 468 confirmed the principles established in Re H-N.

To summarise some of the key points:

[42] A decision to hold a fact-finding hearing is a major judicial determination within the course of family proceedings. The process will inevitably introduce delay and postpone anything other than an interim determination of issues relating to the child’s welfare […] Further, the litigation of factual issues between parents is likely to be adversarial and, whatever the outcome, to have a negative impact on their ongoing relationship and ability to cooperate with each other as parents. It is therefore important for the court, in every case where fact-finding is being considered, to take time to identify the welfare issues, to understand the nature of the allegations, and then to consider whether the facts alleged are relevant to those issues and whether it is, therefore, necessary for the factual dispute to be determined.

[45] […] fact-finding is only needed if the alleged abuse is likely to be relevant to what the court is being asked to decide relating to the children’s welfare.

 [89] Whilst the court will not hesitate to adjudicate upon parental behaviour where this impacts upon the protection or welfare of a child, it is not for the court to hear about, much less to resolve, issues between the parents relating to their time together, unless to do so is likely to be necessary for, and proportionate to, the resolution of a dispute relating to the protection or welfare of a child.

 Sir Geoffrey Vos also confirmed the importance of taking advantage of the MIAM at an early stage in proceedings, for a speedier resolution of the issues with the least trauma imposed on the family.


On 5th May 2022, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew Macfarlane, produced guidance for Judges and Magistrates on how to navigate domestic abuse in Private Law Children Proceedings.

To summarise some of the key points:

 [13] The fundamentals are relevance, purpose, and proportionality.

[14] Allegations that require the assessment of a pattern of behaviour, such as controlling and coercive behaviour, do not justify a different approach. The court only needs to determine allegations of such behaviour to the extent that it is relevant and necessary to determine issues as to a child’s future welfare. Even then, the court is only required to assess the overarching issue, rather than every single subsidiary factual allegation that may also be raised.

[15] Always consider whether the allegations (at their highest) go to safeguarding in general or to particular circumstances that could be mitigated by supervision of contact or some other measures. If the latter and mitigations are available, why is it said that a fact-finding hearing is required?

 [16] If your conclusion is that the allegations, if proved and however serious, would not be relevant to the decision, then no fact-finding hearing is required.

 [27] The court must, at all stages in the proceedings, consider whether domestic abuse is raised as an issue: FPR PD 12J [5]. However, guard against attempts to re-argue the question once a decision has been made.


To conclude, the key questions that a Court must answer before concluding that a separate fact-finding hearing is both necessary and proportionate are:

  1. What is the real issue in the case, in particular, concerning the welfare of the child?
  1. Is there any other evidence before the Court to safely dispose of the allegations?
  1. Would the outcome of a separate fact-finding hearing impact the assessment of the future risk to the child?


Our next article will explore how Family Courts handle allegations which involve a criminal element and will be posted on the 16th January 2023.

  1. Friendly reminder that this article is not to be viewed as legal advice, and is simply for educational purposes and to help keep practitioners up to date on the key legal framework


Rachel Norgate

3rd January 2023

Amy Packham prosecutes case of child cruelty at Lewes Crown Court

On Friday 4th November two defendants received six years imprisonment each for child cruelty, for the wilful neglect of 7 children in their care between September 2019 and June 2021 following earlier pleas of guilty.

Amy Packham told Lewes Crown Court that in June 2021 the police were called to their home address . When officers entered the house, only one of the children was present, a 7 year old.  She was asleep on a sofa in the living room wearing only a nappy.  Also present in that room were 35 live dogs and one dead dog.  Officers noted she had faeces over her skin and her hair was matted.

The home was strewn with discarded clothing, litter, rotting food and animal faeces with little to no food in the cupboards.

The other children were located nearby and the four youngest ones taken into the care of children’s services. All had rotten teeth and the youngest children lacked basic social skills. They did not know how to brush their teeth, wash themselves or eat with a knife and fork.  They hadn’t been attending school and were registered as being home schooled.

One of the children had to be put under general anaesthetic to remove 13 dangerously decayed teeth, while another was only discovered to be blonde after their hair was washed several times. A second girl was so weak that she was unsteady on her feet and acted as if she had never had to interact with people outside her household before.

Lamb Building members ranked in Legal 500 2023

Chambers are delighted to report that our members have once again been ranked as leading barristers in the 2023 edition of the Legal 500 directory.


Charlotte Johnson is once again a Rising Star.

Amy Packham – ‘Amy is extremely approachable, kind and patient. She is always willing to help and remains 100% committed to her clients. She is tenacious in her case preparation and pays attention to detail.’ 

Christopher Prior‘Christopher is a clever and articulate barrister. He is as impressive in his pre-trial preparation as in his razor-sharp advocacy.’

Jonathan Atkinson – ‘Jonathan is able to put clients at ease, even when extremely anxious. He is thorough and knowledgeable about clients’ cases. Approachable and helpful.’

Paramjit Ahluwalia – ‘Paramjit is an outstanding junior. She combines excellent organisational skills with good judgement, hard work and commitment.

 Matthew Lee is once again a Leading Junior for Social Housing in the London Bar.

Ross Talbott appointed Circuit Judge

We are proud to announce that Ross Talbott has been appointed a Circuit Judge. He will be sitting at the CFC in London.

Since joining Lamb Building, Ross has developed an excellent practice and has been much sought after. His attention to detail, legal skill and general ability to see the human side of every issue has made him an obvious choice for many cases. Those same skills will make him an outstanding judge.

Ross has been an important part of Lamb Building’s Criminal and Family teams and chambers in general. We shall miss him but are pleased that he plans to keep in touch and, in particular, will continue to assist us with CPD training.

Signaller acquitted of attempted rape and sexual assault in Court Martial

James Hay represented a Signaller acquitted this week of attempted rape and sexual assaults at Bulford Military Court.

The Board took just 30 minutes to return Not Guilty verdicts on allegations that were almost two years old.

The case involved careful consideration, preparation and deployment of social media and telephone material.

James was instructed by Alphie Doran of Levales Solicitors.

Amy Packham presents a talk to students in Years 9 & 10 at the prestigious Seaford College about Online Offending and the Dangers of Social Media.

As part of a series of talks to school children Amy Packham addressed teenagers about the very real risks of chatting to strangers online, with real life examples; the effect of protracted investigations on all involved; the importance of individually taking responsibility to obtain consent and the potential consequences of criminal charges, even for youths.



23rd June 2022

After a successful event in 2021 (hosted by Lamb Building), the Summer School returns this year with co-hosts Keating Chambers. It is open to LLB, GDL and Bar Course students, as well as those who have completed the Bar Course, who have an interest in Commercial, Criminal, or Civil Law. Lamb Building and Keating Chambers are collaborating to offer this unique opportunity by delivering sessions led by tenants and pupils from both sets. As well as learning what it is like to practice in these areas, other sessions will cover pupillage applications, interview skills, advocacy and life as a pupil.


  • Remotely on Zoom
  • Thursday 23 June 2022 – Saturday 25 June 2022
  • The sessions on the Thursday and Friday will take place during the evening, and sessions on the Saturday will be held during the day.

Further information on the schedule of the Summer School will follow after you register.


Apply by 10 June 2022.

We aim to offer the sessions to as many students as possible but please note that availability for the advocacy aspect is much more limited so be sure to tick the relevant box on the form if you would like to included.

Click here to apply via our online application from. Deadline for applications in 10 June 2022.

If you have any questions about this event, please direct them to marketing@keatingchambers.com

James Hay represents Sapper acquitted of ‘violent’ rape in Court Martial

After a four day Court Martial at Bulford Military Court, the Sapper was found Not Guilty of two counts of rape against a fellow soldier.

The case received national and international press coverage.

The teenage Sapper was accused of carrying the unconscious soldier back to his room before locking the door behind him and proceeding to violently rape her whilst she remained unconscious and bound. He had always maintained that she was fully conscious, and a willing and active participant in the sexual behaviour.

After over a day’s deliberation, the 5-person Board found the Sapper Not Guilty of the two counts of rape.

James was instructed by Alphie Doran of Levales Solicitors.

Yaa Dankwa Ampadu-Sackey and Yasmin Omotosho Elected to the Bar Council

Lamb Building barristers, Yaa Dankwa Ampadu-Sackey of the Family Team and Yasmin Omotosho of the Civil and Public and Regulatory Team, have been elected to the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales (‘the Bar Council’).

Yaa Dankwa and Yasmin will serve three-year terms representing all barristers in England and Wales, commencing January 2022.


Chambers congratulates Yaa Dankwa and Yasmin on their election success.

Lamb Building ranked as Leading Set in Chambers UK Bar 2022

Chambers are delighted to announce that once again Lamb Building has been ranked as a Leading Set in Chambers UK Bar 2022, with five of Chambers’ members being ranked individually:


On client service:

Lamb Building houses a well-respected criminal team who are frequently instructed as the defence and the prosecution in serious criminal cases. Recent work handled by the set’s tenants includes cases involving allegations of GBH, homicide, rape, conspiracy to supply drugs and modern slavery. One interviewee notes: “I can phone them up and I don’t even have to ask who is available because I know whoever we get will be good.”

“The clerking service is outstanding, and David Corne in particular is second to none. Nothing is too much trouble for him; he responds quickly and efficiently and will always juggle work to make sure cases are covered by those of appropriate seniority.” Max Goodger is the clerk at the Brighton annexe.


In the Crime team:

Bernard Richmond QC: “A proper brief. He has presence, he knows what he is doing, he makes the right noises and he does the work.”

Amy Packham:  Amy Packham is a respected junior with notable expertise in a wide range of criminal cases. She regularly handles matters relating to sexual offences, including those involving historic allegations. “She is kind, compassionate and fierce in court.” “She is highly experienced in all manner of cases, responds quickly to enquiries and manages her caseload extremely efficiently. She always rises to the challenges she faces.”

James Hay: James Hay is a well-regarded junior noted for his expert handling of a range of serious violence, firearms and sexual assault cases. He demonstrates particular strength in defending cases involving allegations of dangerous driving.  “He is a wonderful junior who does a lot of research and prepares detailed advices for his cases. He gets unexpected brilliant results and has a great rapport with his clients.”
Recent work: Defended charges under the Modern Slavery Act (trafficking with a view to exploitation) in the West Country’s first county lines and modern slavery trial.

Ross Talbott: Ross Talbott is a well-regarded junior who prosecutes and defends serious sexual offences and organised crime cases. He is regularly instructed in complex criminal matters such as current and historic sexual assault allegations. “He has a calm and thoughtful manner about him which the juries like, and an effective approach. He will always find a sensible solution to the problem.” “He is approachable, thorough, prompt in dealing with advice work and very strong on the law.”
Recent work: Defended a church organist charged with the extensive historical sexual abuse of a female child to whom he was a mentor and teacher and also her brother whom he also taught.


In the Civil Team:

Matthew Lee: Matthew Lee is a strong junior with significant market recognition for his recent appearances in notable reported cases. He acts in possession cases and anti-social behaviour claims, among other disputes, including those relating to the Equality Act 2010. “He is very approachable and he cares about the clients. He looks outside the box and has excellent legal knowledge; he’s not afraid to push the boundaries but is realistic when he does.” “He’s incredibly hard-working and able to build an instant rapport with the client. Matthew is approachable and has amazing attention to detail.”
Recent work: Acted in an appeal to dismiss a claim that an asylum seeker who had been accommodated by a local authority under the ‘Everyone In’ scheme did not have an arguable case that he had been granted a secure tenancy.

Anne Faul secures unanimous acquittal at trial

October 2021

Anne Faul, instructed by Mr Andy Smith of SBS Solicitors, secured a unanimous acquittal for her client following a two-week trial at Cambridge Crown Court. The Defendant faced a single charge of Rape relating to events that allegedly took place a decade ago. The prosecution called eleven witnesses. The Defence served a lengthy schedule of text messages exchanged between the Defendant and the complainant, and called only the Defendant and one further witness to give evidence. The jury reached a unanimous verdict after deliberating for 3 hours.

You can view Anne Faul’s profile here

Members of Lamb Building ranked in Legal 500 UK Bar 2022

Chambers are delighted to announce that the following members of Lamb Building have been ranked as Leading Juniors in the 2022 edition of the Legal500’s UK Bar directory:

In the Crime Team:

Ross Talbott – ‘A first-rate advocate with a very compelling and persuasive manner in court. He builds excellent rapport with judges and juries. It is clear that he prepares his cases extremely thoroughly and knows his papers inside out. ’

Paramjit Ahluwalia – ‘Paramjit is an outstanding junior. She combines excellent organisational skills with good judgement, hard work and commitment.

Christopher Prior – ‘A truly gifted advocate who is very considered and articulate. Christopher is renowned for his mastery of his briefs and leaving no stone unturned in complex cases.

Amy Packham – ‘She is a consummate trial advocate who consistently delivers results. Her work ethic is extraordinary, and her attention to detail is second to none.

Jonathan Atkinson – ‘A thoughtful and considered advocate who always has a fantastic grasp of his brief. He has a wonderful manner with witnesses and juries love him.

In the Civil Team:

Matthew Lee – ‘Matthew is a star in the making, he thinks out of the box and challenges points of law that others are scared to challenge. Matthew has exceptionally good knowledge of the law and is absolutely determined and dedicated to obtaining the best possible results for our clients.

James Oliveira-Agnew represents client in landmark Court of Appeal Judgment

James Oliveira-Agnew was recently involved in what has been described as a landmark Court of Appeal Judgment. James represented a client in a specially convened Court of Appeal case chaired by LJ Fulford that dealt with the sentencing of sexual offenders. As a result of the case there will now be a consultation by the Sentencing Council who are seeking to regularise sentencing in this complex field.


Article: Pet Peeves

Tim Jones of the Lamb Building Civil Team discusses the new model tenancy introduced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.


Recently, there have been news reports in various media outlets claiming (at least at first glance) that new “rules” have been introduced permitting tenants to keep pets in their properties. For example, the BBC reports that “Renters in England set to be allowed to keep ‘well behaved pets’”, and the Daily Mirror reports that “New rules mean landlords can no longer automatically ban tenants from having pets”. At the risk of disappointing some animal lovers, this is a development that requires some clarity and context!

Continue reading

Andrew Selby appointed as Queen’s Counsel

Lamb Building Chambers are delighted to announce that Andrew Selby has been successful in his application for silk. We offer our warmest congratulations to him on being appointed as Queen’s Counsel.

Ross Talbott is Appointed to Highest Level of the CPS Advocate Panel

We are delighted to announce that Ross Talbott has been appointed to Level Four, the highest level, of the CPS Advocate Panel. This appointment is recognition of Ross’ practice focusing on the most serious cases to come before the Courts.

Ross is also a member of the CPS Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Panel and sits as a Recorder.

Chambers are proud to be home to a number of barristers on the CPS Advocate Panels across all levels. For more information please contact us.

Article: A Gateway Opens – how to terminate a tenancy on the death of the tenant

By Tim Jones

This article considers the recent Court of Appeal case of Gateway Housing Association Limited v the Personal Representatives of Mohammed Nuruj Ali (deceased) and Delara Begum [2020] EWCA Civ 1339 (“Begum”).

The key issue in Begum was what a landlord was required to do in circumstances where the tenant had died intestate and the landlord wished to terminate the tenancy.

Continue reading

Article: Civil Injunctions under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – a missed opportunity?

By Tim Jones

On 8 July 2020, the Civil Justice Council (“CJC”) completed a report (“the report”) (published on 8 October 2020) reflecting on the effectiveness of the civil injunction regime under Part 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”). The report can be found here. The purpose of this article is to summarise and comment on the key points of the report, which highlighted a number of areas where the new civil injunction regime under the 2014 Act did not appear to be working as intended.

Continue reading

Lamb Building Leading Set/Individuals in Legal 500 Directory 2021

Lamb Building again had numerous groups and individuals cited in the 2021 edition of Legal 500 across Crime, Immigration, and Social Housing.

In Crime we are described as ‘a strong set…, with a number of strong juniors working in Sussex and the South East’ and it is said that ‘there is enough variety to cover almost every type of case and varying degree of complexity’. Ross Talbott is particularly praised.

In Immigration our group is a ‘formidable immigration team’ and ‘the set “genuinely cares about their clients”‘. Sandra Akinbolu, Bojana Asanovic, Emma Daykin, Eric Fripp and Keelin McCarthy are all included as Leading Juniors.

In Social Housing Matthew Lee is a Leading Junior, with ‘excellent judgment and… a pleasure to work with’.

In comments both Clerks and barristers are praised. Our Clerks are ‘extremely friendly and approachable with a can-do attitude. It is always excellent and they are a group of real problem solvers…’, ‘We have come to know the clerks as our own colleagues… We have reached a wavelength where we understand each others’ needs without much explanation.’ More broadly it is said ‘Lamb Building is respected among firms for its diversity and its friendly approach. They genuinely care about the clients and achieve excellent results acting for the best interests of the clients. We have held a long and friendly relationship with Lamb Building and instruct many of their barristers for the high-class work they produce and the well-respected representation which they provide to our clients.’

Chambers and Partners Directory 2021- Lamb Building

Lamb Building again had many citations in the 2021 edition of the Chambers and Partners Directory across Crime, Immigration, and Social Housing.

In Crime Bernard Richmond QC is a Leading Silk, Ross Talbott a Leading Junior and James Hay in the Up and Coming category.

In Immigration four members are named as Leading Juniors, Sandra Akinbolu, Bojana Asanovic, Emma Daykin, and Eric Fripp.

In Social Housing Matthew Lee is a Leading Junior.

Chambers is again proud of the performance of its Clerks and barristers, who provide an excellent service focussed on approachability, problem-solving, and ‘genuine care for the interests of their professional and lay clients’.

Paramjit Ahluwalia speaking at Justice Colloquium on Coercive Control held by De Montfort University (30-31st July 2020)

Paramjit is speaking with Katy Swaine Williams and Dr Jenny Earle from the Prison Reform Trust as well as Harriet Wistrich from Centre for Women’s Justice on exploring a new statutory defence for those whose crimes arise in the context of being subject to coercive and controlling behaviour.

To book a place, please contact vbettinson@dmu.ac.uk or see website for further details of programme on www.iccln.org.

Lamb Building welcomes two new members

Chambers are delighted to announce that Tim Jones, formerly with Capsticks, has accepted an invitation to join our Civil and Housing Team. Tim, who was called in 2010, has previously been in-house counsel with two large Registered Providers of social housing and more recently at Capsticks Solicitors LLP. We are equally delighted to announce that upon the successful completion of her pupillage Gabrielle Compton has accepted an invitation to join chambers Criminal Team.

Yasmin Omotosho published in the Archbold Review

Yasmin Omotosho, a member of Lamb Building’s Civil Team, has been published in Issue 10 of the Archbold Review 2019. In her article she comments on the important relationship between the independent Bar and the Rule of Law and reflects on her personal observations of the justice system in Russia. To download the full article please click here:

Former Sri Lankan Diplomat Convicted at re-trial

Brigadier Fernando, a former Sri Lankan diplomat to the UK, was convicted at a re-trial for section 4A Public Order Act Offences on 6 December 2019 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. He was fined £2000 and ordered to pay compensation to each of the victims. The Judge also upheld her decision of 1 March 2019 that Brigadier Fernando did not enjoy residual diplomatic immunity for the cut throat gestures he made towards Tamil protestors outside the Sri Lankan High Commission on 4 February 2018.

Shanthi Sivakumaran, led by Peter Carter QC, and instructed by Public Interest Law Centre acted for the Private Prosecutor.

SSHD approach in Turkish ECAA cases held to be unfair

In the lead case of Karagul & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 3208 (Admin) (27 November 2019) https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2019/3208.html it was concluded that in light of the SSHD not being satisfied that the Claimants held a genuine wish or intention to establish in business, the rejection of their ECAA applications was reached without affording them a fair process at common law.

Gordon Lee and Emma Daykin acted for Claimants, instructed by Ibrahim Aytac of Stuart & Co Solicitors.

Six members now recognised in the 2020 Edition of Chambers and Partners

The number of members recognised in the 2020 Edition of Chambers and Partners has increased to six. Bernard Richmond QC is in Band 4 Crime in London. Also featured in the Crime category for the South East are Ross Talbott in Band 2 and James Hay for ‘Up and coming’. Within London Immigration Eric Fripp in Band 2 and Bojana Asanovic in Band 4 and in the London Section for Social Housing Matthew Lee has been placed in Band 4.

Four new members join Chambers after completing pupillage

Chambers are delighted to announce that upon the completion of their respective pupillages, Ani Yeghikian, Yasmin Omotosho, Christopher Bates and Laura Bayles have all accepted invitations to join chambers. Ani and Chris will join our Criminal Team, Yasmin will join the Civil Team and Laura Bayles is joining both the Family and Criminal Team.

Ross Talbott Appointed as a Recorder

Chambers are delighted to announce that Ross Talbott has been appointed as a Recorder by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice.

Ross is the fourth member of Chambers to be appointed as a Recorder; joining Bernard Richmond QC, June Venters QC and Nicola Shannon.