Joan Connell

Specialist in:

Joan accepts instructions in relation to all types of private law applications involving children, including on behalf of parents and rule 16.4 Guardians. Joan has particular expertise in difficult and intractable contact disputes and applications for permission to remove children from the jurisdiction.

Reported cases
29th June 2009

DS v RS [2009] EWHC 1594 (Fam)

Application for permission to remove a child to India temporarily for the purpose of a wedding


Joan represents parents, Children’s Guardians, and separately represented teenagers on a daily basis. She also has considerable experience of representing local authorities. She is regularly instructed on complex cases and has been involved in cases involving the murder of a parent, alienating behaviours, non-accidental injury, factitious or induced illness, allegations of sexual abuse and the transfer of proceedings to other jurisdictions.

Recent Cases of Note

A LA v T [2024]

Joan represented a father in a case where the children had been alienated from their father. Joan succeeded in obtaining a finding of alienating behaviours by the mother and the children were able to repair their relationship with their father and contact re-introduced.

A LA v U [2024]

Joan represented a 16 year old who had been alienated from her father as a result of alienating behavior by her mother. The young person eventually moved to live with her father and spend time with her mother.

A LA v V [2022]

Joan represented a mother at both a fact finding and final hearing who was alleged to have alienated the children from their father. Joan successfully challenged the expert psychologist and no findings of alienation were made against the Mother.  The children remained living with their Mother whilst efforts were made to rebuild the children’s relationship with their father.

A LA v W [2022]

Joan represented a 14 year old who was in secure accommodation for 12 months due to mental  health issues. Over the following 3 years Joan represented the young person until she was finally placed with family friends with a package of support from the NHS, education, and children’s services to rebuild her life.


A LA v X: [2023]

Joan represented a Romanian child through his Guardian in care proceedings. There was no one in the UK able to care for him and the case was transferred under article 8 of the 1996 Hague Convention.

A LA v Y: [2023]

Joan represented a mother accused of physical abuse and failure to protect from sexual abuse. No findings were made by the Court and the Mother was reunited with her children.

A LA v Z [2023]

Joan represented an intervenor with whom children were placed following the murder of their mother and imprisonment of their father. Joan successfully argued  in the High Court for a package of support to provide the intervenor with the housing, funds, and therapeutic support she needed to care for the children.

Reported cases
5th January 2023 | [2023] EWCA Civ 1

Re S (A Child) & W (A Child) (s20 Accommodation)

The case is reported in Bailii here.

Joan represented the appellant mother in an appeal to the Court of Appeal which argued that it can be right to use s20 accommodation for the long-term care of a child and that in suitable cases it is not necessary for the local authority to hold a s31 order. Joan, led by Deidre Fottrell KC was successful in arguing that the court at first instance was wrong to conclude that a child should be placed in long-term care under a care order when it was clear that the parents had no intention of disrupting the placement and agreed that residential care was the best option for their child. Cases in which the courts criticised local authorities for the improper use of s20 were distinguished. The case is important as parents retain parental responsibility on an equal footing to the local authority if the child is accommodated under s20 rather than a s31 order being made, strengthening the parents’ ability to advocate for their child and putting the parents and local authority on an equal footing.

This point is made in the article written by Joan and Tatiana Rocha which examined the case of Re S and its implications for other similar cases: “Putting parents on a level playing field: when is s20 appropriate for the long-term care of a child?”  A copy of the article can be found on this link:

12th April 2019 | Bailii

A Local Authority v C [2019] EWHC 1782

Joan Connell represented the children through their Children’s Guardian in a case in which the children’s mother had been murdered by their father. The court had to determine which of two family members, one paternal and one maternal, should care for the children throughout their minority and also issues of contact with the father in prison. The court also considered the legal principles to be applied in circumstances where a person found guilty of an offence refuses to accept the outcome of the criminal trial.

4th July 2018 | Bailii

P (A Child) [2018] EWCA Civ 1483

Joan Connell represented the respondent local authority in proceedings in which the Appellant Mother successfully appealed a refusal for an adjournment for six months at a final hearing. At the time of the final hearing L, was 7 months old. M was a recovering alcoholic who sought further time to demonstrate abstinence and insight into the concerns of the local authority regarding her honesty and ability to work with professionals in the event of a future relapse. The court at first instance refused the application for an adjournment and made care and placement orders. On appeal the final orders were set aside, the adjournment granted and the case set down for a further hearing. The President’s guidance in Re S Child [2014] EWHC was considered.

20th April 2017 | Bailii

London Borough of Merton v SB & Ors [2017] EWFC B81

Joan Connell represented the Local Authority in the case: London Borough of Merton v SB & Ors [2017] EWFC B81.

Mark Twomey QC represented the Respondent Mother, who made a successful application for the transfer of care proceedings to Slovakia under the provisions of Article 15 of BIIR.


Joan has considerable experience of international private and public law cases when acting for local authorities, parents, and children. Since Brexit Joan has been involved in the transfer of public law cases to other jurisdictions under the 1996 Hague Convention including Albania and Romania. Joan also has considerable experience of cases involving the assessment of relatives abroad.

Joan has considerable experience of international care cases when acting for both local authorities and parents and involving applications under Articles 15 and 56 of BIIa and also the assessment of relatives abroad.

Reported cases
29th June 2009

DS v RS [2009] EWHC 1594 (Fam)

Application for permission to remove a child to India temporarily for the purpose of a wedding


What the directories say

“She makes the client feel very comfortable in her presence.”

“Joan is a meticulous barrister, who always seems to go the extra mile for the clients.”

“Joan is a meticulous barrister, who always seems to go the extra mile. She makes the client feel very comfortable in her presence.”

“An experienced and knowledgeable advocate, who is brilliant at what she does.”

“Joan is very approachable and has a calm manner. When in court she gets straight to the nub of the case and impresses with the concision of her cross-examinations.”
Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2024

Joan is committed to client care of the highest standard. She is approachable and helpful towards her instructing solicitor. She goes above and beyond for her clients. She works tirelessly on cases, always achieving the best possible outcome for clients.”
The Legal 500 2024

A fantastic lawyer with a compassionate and extraordinarily effective style.

Joan is invested in cases and is prepared to go the extra mile where needed. She is good at reporting back and co-working cases and engenders trust from the client. She is excellent in tricky cases and has good knowledge of the law.
The Legal 500 2023

“An excellent advocate who always commits to a case and to the client. She has a really good warm manner which puts clients at ease but works hard to ensure that she provides a very good service.”
The Legal 500 2022

‘Can be relied upon to provide a steady, strong hand in difficult cases. She is empathetic to lay clients and has an excellent manner in persuading people to do what her client wants. She is able to manage tricky clients with skill and to do so in a way that they do not feel that they are being managed.’
The Legal 500 2021


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Professional Memberships

Family Law Bar Association

Data Protection

Joan Connell's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) registration number is Z3257624.
Please see here for her Data Privacy Notice.