Lily Cooke and Ryan Anderson represent pro bono a father in applications to remove parental responsibility and for costs against him

03 July 2023

Lily Cooke and Ryan Anderson defended pro bono a father in private child law proceedings. Their work was singled out by HHJ Dias in his judgment along with that of their instructing solicitor:

‘Ms Cooke and Mr Anderson… acted pro bono on behalf of the father. It does them and the Bar great credit.

Equally, the court must pay tribute to their instructing solicitor Ms Shah, who again acted for the father on a pro bono basis.

It is important that the public knows the professional and personal sacrifice that members of the legal profession so frequently make, unheralded and unacknowledged, and without which many cases could not proceed effectively or would take significantly longer’.

 Background to the case

The mother had made 2 applications:

  • for costs against the father following a fact-finding hearing about sexual abuse allegations concerning their young daughter and
  • for the removal of the father’s parental responsibility.

The judgment addresses the complex and nuanced issue of costs in Family Court proceedings and sets out when and why it would be just to order costs in Children Act 1989 proceedings.

Additionally HHJ Dias considers the circumstances in which parental responsibility may be removed.

In his judgment, he emphasises that removal of parental responsibility is a rare or exceptional course of action and a severe interference with the Article 8 rights of the parent and the child. Therefore termination must be necessary and proportionate.

In making its decision, the court should apply section 1 Children Act 1989 and give paramountcy to the child’s welfare. No one factor in the welfare checklist takes priority.

Read the judgment in full in A Mother v A Father [2023] EWFC 105