1 Garden Court

Practice Overview

Deirdre Fottrell specialises in the law relating to children. She is also a leading practitioner in the field of surrogacy and assisted reproduction cases in which issues of legal parentage arise.

She has appeared at all levels of court in the UK including the Supreme Court and she has litigated cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Deirdre has particular expertise as appellate counsel and in 2017-18 she has appeared in the Court of Appeal on ten occasions.  In 2018 she acted for the appellants in the UKSC in the case of Williams v the London Borough Of Hackney.

She has broad experience in public law cases in which allegations of sexual abuse, radicalisation orfatal injury arise.  In private law she acts in residence, contact and relocation disputes. 

Deirdre was a university lecturer before coming to the bar. She has taught and published in the area of children's rights, European human rights and international law since 1995.  She has taught at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and the University of Essex.  From 2002-2012 she was a visiting professor at the School of International Affairs at Columbia University in New York.  She has acted as a Council of Europe expert on the ECHR and in an advisory capacity to UNIFEM.

  • Children (private law)

    In private law matters she has wide experience in residence and contact disputes. She also has particular expertise in surrogacy and fertility law. She has recently acted in 35 separate cases arising from errors made by fertility clinics in which she successfully obtained declarations of parentage including the leading case of Re HFEA (A and others) (Legal Parenthood) 1 WLR 1325 [2016].

    She has broad expertise in relocation cases and in matters involving cross-jurisdictional and international legal issues. She offers a vast knowledge of international child law having taught and published as a academic in this area for 15 years. She appeared in many of the leading cases on international abduction, international adoption and the application of Brussels IIR in public and private law cases. In 2015-6 she acted in four international cases in the UK Supreme Court.

  • Children (public law)

    In public law she is regularly instructed in cases in which there is complex medical evidence or allegations of sexual abuse. Since 2015 has been involved in a numerous cases in which the court has considered allegations that parents have radicalised their children including London Borough of Tower Hamlets v B [2016] 1 FLR 1431 and Re C, D and E (Radicalisation; Factfinding) [2016] EWHC 3087 and she is one of the leading practitioners in this field.

  • Judicial review & administrative law

    In addition she has particular expertise on the interplay between the Human Rights Act 1998 and family law. She advises and acts on matters of judicial review matters in the Administrative Court for adopters, foster carers and children in matters arising from the statutory duties of local authorities.  She has expertise on use of injunctive measures and other remedies under the HRA 1998.

  • International family law

    Deirdre has a particular expertise in international legal issues as they affect children.  In 2015-2017 she acted in four cases before the UKSC in which the Court interpreted the 1980 Hague Convention and the Brussels II Regulation; Re R (Children) (Reunite and others intervening) UKSC [2016] 35 AC 76, 2 WLR, 1583, Re B (Habitual Residence; Inherent Jurisdiction) [2016] UKSC 4 [2016] 1FLR 561 and Re N (Adoption;Jurisdiction) [2016] UKSC 15 [2016] 1 FLR 1082. 

  • Modern families & surrogacy

    Deirdre is a leader in this field and has been involved in numerous reported cases involving modern family structures, surrogacy and fertility law.  In 2015-18 she has appeared in over 40 cases in the field of surrogacy and fertility law including;  Re H (A Child: Surrogacy Breakdown) [2017] EWCA Civ 1798

  • What the directories say

    2019: ‘Gets to the nub of the issue so quickly.’ Legal 500

    Leading silk who regularly acts on law-changing matters relating to surrogacy and broader fertility issues. She is recognised for her international expertise in child adoption, relocation and abduction matters, as is further noted for her strength in domestic child disputes involving cases of abuse and radicalisation.

    "Deirdre is the whole package, and her academic ability and strategy ability are second to none." "Her knowledge of surrogacy is encyclopaedic and she's in a league of her own. She has a lot of gravitas, and if you're having a meeting she owns the room." Chambers UK

    2017: A recent silk who is recognised for having international expertise that covers child adoption, relocation and abduction matters. She additionally has a growing surrogacy practice and regularly appears in cases involving a complex application of the Human Rights Act. 

    "Deirdre Fottrell has made her mark this year as a silk. She has an intricate knowledge of the most complex international and domestic law and she is a magnetic and powerful advocate."  Chambers UK

    2016: "She has put human rights in family proceedings to the top of the agenda through her hard work."  Legal 500

    2016: "She is extremely bright and grapples with the most complex legal and factual scenarios skilfully. Her judgement is spot-on."  Chambers UK

    2015: "She is exceptionally good on private law children work" Legal 500


    2015: "She is very, very bright on the law, and presents it in a way that is completely understandable. She is totally in command of what she does."  Chambers UK

    2014: "A brave advocate who mounts groundbreaking arguments in court.’"  Legal 500

    2014: "Extremely able and very bright"  Chambers UK

    2013: "Deirdre Fottrell' strong background in human rights sets her apart from other family counsel"  Legal 500

    2012: "Deirdre Fottrell ‘extremely good’ for judicial review and human rights applications, and acted in the case of Re E (Children)"  Legal 500

  • Reported Cases

    International

    Yavnuz Nal and others v Turkey (App 489731/11) ECtHR, 13th June 2017.
    Re J (A child) (Finland; habitual residence) [2017] EWCA All ER (D) 167 (Feb)
    Re N (A child) (Recognition of Foreign Adoption) [2016] All ER (D) 53 (Dec)
    Re R (Children) (Reunite and others intervening) UKSC [2016] 35 AC 76, 2 WLR, 1583
    Re B (Habitual Residence; Inherent Jurisdiction) [2016] UKSC 4 [2016] 1FLR 561
    Re N (Adoption;Jurisdiction) [2016] UKSC 15 [2016] 1 FLR 1082
    Re LC ( a child) (Habitual Residence) [2016] EWFC 31
    Re H (Abduction; Jurisdiction) [2014] EWCA Civ 1101 [2015] 1 WLR 863 1 FLR 1132
    Re D (a Child; Habitual Residence; Consent and Acquiesence) [2015] EWHC [2016] 1 FLR 937.
    R.P. and Others v The United Kingdom [2012] ECHR 1796
    DN (a Child) [2013] EWHC 2401 (Fam)
    Re DN and Others (Children) (No. 1) & Re DN and Others (Children) (No. 2) [2012] EWHC 3842 (Fam) & [2013] EWHC 1433 (Fam)
    Re E (Children) (Abduction: Custody Appeal) [2011] UKSC 27 2 FLR 758
    Re A (Children) (Abduction: Interim Powers) [2010] EWCA Civ 586 [2011] 2 WLR 1364

    Surrogacy/Fertility Law

    X (A Child;Surrogacy; Marriage) [2018] EWFC 15Re G (A Child)(sperm donor) [2018] EWCA Civ 305
    Y and another v W and another (surrogacy; Domicile)  [2017] EWFC 83
    Re H (A Child: Surrogacy Breakdown) [2017] EWCA Civ 1798
    Re Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Cases AI and AJ) [2017] EWHC 3351 (Fam)
    Re Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Cases P, Q, R, S, T and U) (No 2) [2017] EWHC 2532 (Fam)
    Re M (a Child) (Surrogacy) [2017 ]EWCA Civ 228
    Re HFEA 2008 (Cases A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H) (Legal Parenthood; Written Consents) [2015] EWHC 2602 (Fam) [2016] 1 WLR 1325 [2017] 1FLR 366
    Re HFEA 2008 (Case G) [2016] 1 WLR 65
    Re L (A Child) (Human Fertilisation and Embryology; Declaration of Non Parentage) [2016] 4 WLR 147
    Re O (A Child)(Human Fertilisation and Embryology; Adoption Revocation) [2016] 4 WLR 148
    Re G (HFEA 2008) [2016] EWFC 729 (Fam [2017] 4 WLR 65 1 FLR 299
    Case I (HFEA 2008) [2016] All ER (D) 70 (Apr)
    Re V (HFEA 2008) [2016] EWHC 2356 (Fam) All ER (D) 45 (Sep)
    Re N (HFEA 2008) [2016] EWHC 1328 (Fam) All ER(D) 64 (Jun)
    Re J (HFEA 2008) [2016] All ER (D) 63 (Jun)
    Re K (a child) (HFEA 2008) [2017] EWHC 50 (Fam)
    Re HFEA 2008 (Cases P, Q, R, S, T, U, W and X) [2017] All ER (D 81 (Jan)
    Case M (HFEA 2008) [2016] EWHC 1572 (Fam)
    AB ( Surrogacy; Consent) [2016] EWHC 2643 (Fam)
    F v M and others (HFEA 2008) [2015] EWHC (Fam) 3601
    Re JB (a child) (surrogacy;immigration) KB and Another [2016] All ER (D) 172 (Apr)
    Re Z (a child) (surrogacy agreements; child arrangements orders) [2016] EWFC 34
    Re G (a child) (sperm donor; contact orders) [2013] EWHC 134 (Fam) 1 FLR 1334
    A v P (Surrogacy: Parental Order: Death of Applicant) [2011] EWHC 1738 (Fam) [2012] 3 WLR 369, 2 FLR 145

    Children - Public and Private

    Re B (A Child)(Adoption)  [2018] EWCA Civ 20
    F v M and another (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants intervening)Family Division [2017] EWHC 949 (Fam)
    In re J (Children) (Care Proceedings: Issues Resolution Hearing) (Association of Lawyers for Children intervening) - [2017] 4 WLR 109
    Re A and Others (Children) (Adoption) [2017] All ER (D) 82 (Jan)
    Re C, D and E (Radicalisation; Fact Finding) [2016] EWHC 3087
    Re X (A child) (Application for Reporting Restriction; Media Notification) [2016] 4 WLR 116
    Re X (a Child) (No. 2) (Reporting Restrictions; Guidance) [2016] All ER (D) 47 (Jul)
    Re T (a child) (Early Permanence Placement) [2015] EWCA Civ 983 [2017] 1 FLR 330
    London Borough of Tower Hamlets v B [2015] EWHC 2491 [2016] 1FLR 877
    London Borough of Tower Hamlets v M and others [2015] EWCH 869 (fam) [2015] 2 FLR 1431
    Re Y (a child) (Care proceedings; fact finding; radicalisation) [2016] EWFC 30 [2016] 2 FLR 1074
    Re W (a child) (Designation of Local Authority) EWCA Civ [2016] All ER (D) 172 (Apr)
    Re F (Special Guardianship; contact with the birth family) [2015] EWFC 25 [2016] 1FLR 593
    Re K and H (Private Law; Public Funding) [2015] EWCA Civ 543 [2015] 1WLR 3801 [2016] 1FLR 754
    London Borough of Barking and Dagenham v SS [2014] EWHC 3338 (Fam) [2015] 2 FLR 181
    Re D (Non- Availability of Legal Aid ) [2014] EWFC 39 [2015] 1 FLR 531, Re D (no.2) [2015] 1FLR 1247
    Re D (Adoption) (No.3) [2016] EWFC 1 [2017] 1FLR 237
    Re L and B (Child) Care Proceedings; Findings of fact of significant physical and emotional harm) [2015] All ER (D) 35 (Sep)
    Re J (a child) [2015] EWCA Civ 222 All ER (D) 229 (Mar)
    Re DE (Child under Care Order; Injunction under Human Rights Act 1998) [2014] EWFC 6 3 WLR 1733 [2015] 1 FLR 1001
    Re A and B (Children) [2014] All ER (D) 312 (Mar)
    X and Y v Another [2014] EWHC 2147 (Fam) [2015] 1 FLR 1463
    London Borough of Hillingdon v AO [2014] EWHC 75 (Fam)
    In The Matter of C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 1412
    Re AW (a Child: Application to revoke Placement Order: Leave to oppose Adoption) [2013] EWHC 2967 (Fam)
    In C (A Child) (Family proceedings; Practice) [2013] EWCA Civ 431 [2014] 2WLR 2182
    Wiltshire County Council - and - F (1) -and- C (2) -and- BB (3) (by his children’s guardian) [2013] EWHC 2747 (Fam) [2014] 3 WLR 1733
    Re C (Adoption Proceedings; Change of Circumstances) [2013] EWCA Civ 431 [2013] 2 FLR 1393
    W (A Child) [2011] EWCA Civ 1362
    Re H (Care Plan: Human Rights) [2011] EWCA Civ 1009 [2012] 1 FLR 191
    A County Council v K & Ors (By the Child's Guardian HT) [2011] EWHC 1672 (Fam) Judgments (05/07/2011) [2011] 2 FLR 817
    The Queen On The Application of O v Essex County Council [2010] EWHC 3088 (Admin)
    Essex County Council (The Local Authority) v SM [2010] EWHC 1694 (Fam)
    East Sussex County Council v Stedman and Patten [2009] EWHC 935 (Fam) 2 FLR 852
    R (on the application of A and others) v Newham London Borough Council [2008] EWHC 2640 (Admin)[2009] 1FLR 311
    R (on the application of Tareen) v Birmingham City Council [2009] EWHC 3693 (Admin)
    The Queen on the application of Priti Hansraj Chavda Margaret Fitzpatrick By her daughter and litigation friend Pamela Fitzpatrick Milton George Maos and London Borough of Harrow [2007] EWHC 3064 (Admin)
    RE C (Responsible Authority) [2005] EWHC 2939 (Fam) [2006] 1FLR 919
    Re C (children) (supervised contact) [2005] All ER (D) 80 (Mar)

Chambers UK Bar

Top Ranked

2019

Legal 500

Leading Individual

2019

Chambers UK Bar Awards

Shortlisted Family QC of the Year

2018

Bar Pro Bono Awards

Family QC of the Year

2018