Martina is a go-to barrister with excellent forensic analytical skills to the table and brilliant client care skills.
Legal 500, 2024
She is exceptionally kind, supportive and patient with vulnerable clients.
Legal 500, 2024

Dr Martina van der Leij specialises in family law.  Before coming to the Bar, she worked as a clinical research scientist.  She has a PhD from UCL and completed a postdoc at KCL. This background and the critical, analytical approach it cultivated has served her well when dealing with complex care cases that have significant medical or expert evidence.

She is regularly instructed by local authorities, parents and Guardians in cases involving:

  • infant death, shaken babies, other non-accidental injuries to children
  • sexual and physical abuse of children
  • factitious or induced illness
  • conflicting medical opinions
  • mental health issues.

She has completed the Advocacy & The Vulnerable (Family) training and understands the key principles behind the approach to, and questioning of, vulnerable people in the justice system.

Martina also accepts instructions in private law cases and ancillary relief, as well as Court of Protection cases and matters involving the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

She is a Recorder on the South Eastern Circuit and sits in the Financial Remedies Court. She is also a deputy district judge for London and the South East sitting in family and civil.

Martina is able to accept instructions directly from members of the public within her specialist areas.

She is joint head of chambers’ family law group.

If you would like more information about Martina’s practice, please contact her clerks or call +44 (0)20 7405 6114.

Family & children

Martina is regularly instructed to advise and represent local authorities, parents and children in often complex and sensitive public law proceedings involving allegations of non-accidental (unexplained) injuries and sexual abuse of children.

She also regularly represents parents in private proceedings involving disputes over contact, residence, removal from the jurisdiction.

Financial provision

Martina has acted and advised in a broad range of ancillary relief matters, including more complex cases involving interveners, insolvency, or company assets.  She is also instructed in cases dealing with financial provision for children, cohabitation and civil partnership disputes.  She has advised on pre-nuptial agreements.

Martina has appeared in a number of contested divorces and nullity proceedings, as well as declarations as to the validity of foreign marriages.

Additional information

Before coming to the Bar, Martina worked as a scientist in both academia and industry.  Her first degree was a joint major in Zoology and Botany, and she completed a Masters in Biotechnology in 1991.  She was awarded a PhD (biological sciences – membrane transport) by UCL in 1995.  In addition to carrying out research and field work in Africa and India, she worked in the Biodiscovery Division of Rhone Poulenc, and as a clinical scientist for a company conducting clinical trials, before retraining as a barrister.  In addition to her areas of work, she has an interest in all aspects of science and law, in particular genetics and ethics, and environmental issues.

Martina is a qualified Public Access barrister.


Notable cases

  • Z (A Child : No.1 : Fact Finding Decision) [2022] EWFC 190 – Martina acted for the mother in local authority care proceedings concerning allegations of sexual abuse by the father against various children.
  • ES (A child) Re [2017] EWFC B67Martina represented the local authority in this factitious and induced injury case where a mother deliberately misrepresented health difficulties in her one-year-old baby.  The case also dealt with issues relating to hearsay evidence from treating medical professionals.
  • Tomer v Atlantic Cleaning Service Ltd & Anor (2008) EWHC 1652 (QB) – Claim for damages after a workplace accident struck out.


PhD (Biological Sciences) UCL 1995

Professional memberships

  • FLBA
  • Court of Protection Bar Association
  • South Eastern Bar Circuit
  • PNBA
  • Member of Inner Temple

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