Chris Stevenson

Specialist in:

Chris is regularly instructed in proceedings relating to applications for child arrangements orders, specific issue orders and prohibited steps orders.  He recognises the real benefit for clients in having continuity of representation from the FHDRA through to the Final Hearing and the value of providing realistic and practical advice from the outset.

Equipped with a wealth of experience of acting in public law proceedings, Chris is ideally positioned to act in the most contentious cases involving expert evidence and where there are allegations of drug and alcohol abuse, mental health difficulties and physical, emotional and sexual abuse.  Recent cases in which Chris has been instructed have involved allegations of parental alienation and intractable hostility (which he finds particularly interesting) as well as cases where there has been a need for a fact-finding hearing in respect of allegations of rape and sexual abuse against children.

Leave to Remove
Chris also deals regularly with applications for internal relocation and leave to remove children from the jurisdiction of England and Wales, both on a permanent and a temporary basis.  In recent years, Chris has appeared in the Family Court and the High Court representing parties seeking and opposing children’s removal to Hague and non-Hague Convention countries, including Monaco, the United States of America, Germany and Thailand.  He considers that a real focus on the core issues from an early stage is essential and helps to achieve optimum outcomes for clients.

Chris acts in complex public law proceedings, particularly where there are suspected non-accidental injuries, allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse and where there are issues around substance misuse and mental health concerns.  Chris is very interested in radicalisation cases and has written for legal journals and delivered training on this developing area of child protection law.

Chris accepts instructions from parents, extended family members, local authorities and children – whether represented by their Children’s Guardian or where they are separately represented.  He is particularly experienced in representing vulnerable clients, who perhaps have psychiatric illnesses or mental health impairments that affect their cognitive functioning.  He believes in a supportive approach to litigation but also in being clear and realistic in his advice from the outset.

Recent cases include: representing the children, through their Guardian, in a two-week fact-finding hearing in relation to allegations of sexual abuse and grooming behaviour; a 10-day final hearing representing an adult child of the family who made allegations of sexual abuse against her father; and successfully appealing against findings of fact and the welfare determination at a final hearing.

Judicial Review & Human Rights Act claims
Chris has experience in judicial review proceedings and is able to provide advice and representation to those seeking to review decisions made by local authorities and other public bodies.

In addition, Chris has recently developed a practice in Human Rights Act claims for declarations of unlawful actions by public authorities and damages.  He accepts instructions from both claimants and defendants and is able to advise in conference and in writing where appropriate, as well as attend Court hearings, right up to contested final hearings.

Reported cases
11th March 2021

Z (A Child) [2021] EWHC 559 (Fam)

Second judgment in the High Court whereby Judd J recognised the improvements, but then decline, the subject child made in their bespoke residential placement. The Court made a Care Order and authorised a further package of measures constituting a deprivation of the child’s liberty in light of recent difficulties

10th July 2020

Z (A Child) (DOLS: Lack of Secure Placement) [2020] EWHC 1827 (Fam)

The High Court considered the Local Authority’s application for an order authorising the deprivation of a young person’s liberty, noting the lack of appropriate secure placements at a time of social emergency during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Chris acted for the father, who – together with the mother – sought to discharge the ICO and have the young person returned to the parents’ care. Judd J, noting the parents’ anguish, nevertheless concluded that the young person’s safety required that they be made subject to a DOL order

4th April 2019

B (Children: Uncertain Perpetrator) [2019] EWCA Civ 575

Successful appeal against findings of fact made by the court at first instance, where the trial judge was criticised for not applying the correct test for the identification of perpetrators of significant harm. The case raises an important principle about the proper approach to take when identifying perpetrators and the risk of effectively reversing the burden of proof


Health, Welfare & Deprivation of Liberty
Chris acts for all parties to Court of Protection proceedings, including local authorities, health care trusts, Deputies and the Official Solicitor.  He brings his experience and approach in Children Act work to his Court of Protection practice, which is particularly relevant to deprivation of liberty and personal welfare decisions.  He is able to advise and provide representation in matters relating to community care law and in cases involving disputes over medical treatment.  Chris appears across the country in contested interim and final hearings as well as in cases where there is a need for fact-finding.  He has previously applied for injunctions against a party to proceedings and also deals with applications by the press for permission to publish information pertaining to the litigation.

Property & Affairs
Chris’ practice encompasses disputes relating to property and financial affairs, accepting instructions from Deputies and other parties to proceedings.  He has recent experience of applications for the execution of a statutory will, authority to make gifts and maintenance payments, and acts in cases where Deputies seek the Court’s authorisation to conduct ancillary litigation on behalf of P.  Chris represents incapacitous individuals in family proceedings through their Litigation Friends, including matrimonial finance cases, divorce and private children law disputes, and accepts instructions in family proceedings where a Deputy has been appointed to make decisions in respect of an incapacitous individual’s property or financial affairs.

Chris is a regular contributor to Jordans Family Law and the Elder Law Journal, writing articles and case summaries on latest decisions of the Court of Protection.

Chris is regularly instructed in private and public law proceedings brought under the Children Act which have an international element.  This includes applications for leave to remove children from the jurisdiction on a temporary and permanent basis, to Hague Convention countries and non-Hague Convention countries.  Chris’ practice includes international adoption matters arising in public law proceedings.

What the directories say

“Attention for detail. Very clever. Passionate. Caring.”

“Stands out amongst children practitioners as technically strong with a fine reputation amongst judges.”
The Legal 500 2021

Professional Qualifications

Law with French Law (LLB), UCL 2008
Certificat Supérieur en Droit, Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II) 2007

Professional Memberships

Family Law Bar Association
Association of Lawyers for Children
Court of Protection Practitioners' Association