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Law Research

Centre for Child and Family Law Reform

About us

nullThe purpose of the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform is to scrutinise existing family law and to facilitate reform where appropriate. The Centre's Committee was formerly chaired by His Honour Judge Donald Cryan (Hon) LL.D. (2010-2014) and is currently chaired by James Turner QC; Michael Horowitz QC has recently joined the CCFLR as Deputy Chairman. The Committee is comprised of academics, judges and practitioners (both barristers and solicitors). Lucy Cheetham having resigned as Hon Secretary after a lengthy and important contribution to the Committee, Dr Carmen Draghici provides interim support as Acting Secretary. The Committee meets quarterly to discuss recent developments in family law and proposals for reform and is sponsored by The City Law School, City University London.

Recent projects

Binding Arbitration

The Centre was at the forefront in developing the scheme for the extension of arbitration to family financial disputes under the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. The Centre is represented on the IFLA Board as well as the Advisory Committee.

Forced Marriages

The Centre has advocated since 2001 that, rather than creating new criminal offences relating to forced marriage, there be aggravated forms of existing offences in the context of forced marriage. The Centre produced Papers setting out the proposals in 2001 and 2011, and has been involved in all public consultations on the topic.

Secure Accommodation Orders

The Centre produced a Paper in 2012 advocating a more constructive and child-focused approach to the use of Secure Accommodation Orders.

Child Trafficking

The Centre is currently working on proposals for encouraging local authorities to apply for care orders in respect of unaccompanied children from overseas, in contrast to the Department of Health's guidance that such children be merely accommodated under Section 20. This follows concern that such vulnerable children are often targeted and subsequently go missing from care, in circumstances where neither parents nor local authorities hold parental responsibility.


The Centre has also responded to numerous Consultations commissioned by both the Law Commission and the Government, on such topics as Intestacy, Cohabitation, Domestic Violence, Matrimonial Property.


Frances Burton

Frances Burton is a specialist Family Law Academic whose particular interests are Family Finance and Property, Status, and the current lack of a normative regime in English Law for Cohabitation. These interests owe their development to many years' practice at the Chancery Bar, in particular in the context of international families. She is a Research Fellow at London Metropolitan University, Co-Director of its Centre for Family Law and Practice of which she was co-founder in 2009, and Editor of its on line journal Family Law and Practice.

Frances has a keen interest in legal education, having been at various times Convenor of two of the Society of Legal Scholars' specialist subject sections: Practice, Profession and Ethics, and Family Law and Practice, and is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Family Law and Child Law in the recently established Law School at Buckinghamshire New University at High Wycombe.

Her current key projects are to include Dispute Resolution in the University's Masters Degrees in Law, and to run an international conference in 2014 on Family Law, Human Rights and Ethics, in collaboration with the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform.

Frances is also a retired Judge of the Upper Tribunal of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, an experienced Mediator, and Author of several books on Family Law. She has an ongoing interest in Law Reform.

Jo Delahunty

Jo Delahunty QC practices from 4 Paper Buildings and specialises in contentious and complex family cases at High Court level and above involving the death of/catastrophic injuries to a child; sex abuse; ritualised abuse and disability issues. Contentious private law proceedings involving allegations of sexual and emotional abuse are a natural corollary to her public law practice.

Jo has had a string of successful reported cases in 2012 alone including the rickets./ Vit D case of Al Alas/ Wray ( [2012] 2 FLR 1239) and the Court of Appeal in Re Mc C ([2012] 2 FLR 121 and Re A ( [2012] EWCA Civ 1477 and [2013 EWCA Civ 43) .

Jo was called to the Bar in 1986; took Silk in 2006; appointed a Recorder (Family Public/ Private law) in 2009; qualified as a Mediator in 2010; elected as a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2011 and elected to the FLBA executive in 2010 following which she became Chair of the Fees Sub Cttee in 2012.

Singled out for praise and ascending rankings in every edition of Legal 500 and Chambers &Partners since taking silk, most recently described therein as 'absolutely superb' gaining plaudits her 'razor sharp mind with a phenomenal work rate' and 'rapier like incisiveness'.

The Court of Appeal in Re A applauded CAFCASS for their 'wisdom 'in instructing her. Jo is regularly invited to deliver seminars for Jordans, Butterworths, Lexis Nexis and is a contributor to periodicals such as 'The Academy of Experts, Family Law and Counsel. She is a patron of AMEND (Association for Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Disorders).

Olivia Harris

Olivia Harris joined the Committee for the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform in the winter of 2009, during her pupillage year at a mixed family and criminal law set of Chambers. She was taken on there as a tenant in October 2010, where she remained until October 2011. In October 2011, Olivia was one of the founding members of a new set of Chambers, The Chambers of Paul Mallender, 2-3 Hind Court, which specialises in Family Law.

Olivia practices in all areas of family law with a particular emphasis on public and private law Children Act proceedings and applications under the Family Law Act 1996. She has represented a number of vulnerable adults over the course of her practice.

As part of her work for the Committee, Olivia has researched the effect of the criminalisation of non-molestation order breaches and co-authored a response to the government consultation on establishing a national Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.

Olivia has also written articles, outside the committee, on Shared Residence Orders and the case of Re ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department. She has given lectures through her chambers on the Child Support Agency, the Family Proceedings Rules 2010 and prenuptial agreements.

Grant Howell

For over 30 years, Grant has worked in the family law field and is recognised as a leading individual in the legal directories. He has a busy domestic and international caseload as a partner with Charles Russell LLP. He has been a member of the Centre for Child and Family Law Reform since 2009 and co-ordinated and wrote that Committee's response to the Law Commission's consultation on certain aspects of s.25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

In addition:

  •  He has for over 20 years involved himself in other family law organisations at the forefront of legal training and reform; between 1992 and 2012 he was a member of Resolution's training Committee and spent 5 years on Resolution's National Committee; he was also a member of the Family Justice Council's Education and Training sub-committee; .
  •  On a regular basis, he writes and lectures on family law subjects; he is a General and Consultant Editor of various legal textbooks (e.g. Butterworths Family Law Service; Halsbury's Laws) and a co-author of the regular series of Financial Updates published in Jordan's Family Law; he frequently speaks at conferences, both at home and abroad; he is also a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
  • He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
  • He has trained as a collaborative lawyer and is member of both Collaborative Family Law and Collaborative Solutions.
  • He has a MBA in Legal Practice and was Managing Partner of Charles Russell LLP between 1999 and 2007.
  • Since its inception in 2012, he has been centrally involved in family law arbitration. As one of the first arbitrators, he suggested setting up the Forum of Family Arbitrators for all similarly qualified and has been elected as the Forum's first Chair.

Christopher Simmonds

Christopher Simmonds is a District Judge of the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London and therefore regularly hears both private and public law proceedings. His is also a nominated District Judge of the Court of Protection.

Before being appointed he was a Solicitor and Partner in the firm of Davis Simmonds & Donaghey specialising in Public Law Proceedings and a member of the Children Panel. He has written numerous articles on family law to include section 38(6) Applications and Secure Accommodation Orders.

Dr Carmen Draghici

Dr Carmen Draghici is a Senior Lecturer in Law and the LLB Admissions Tutor and Deputy Director at The City Law School, City University London, where she joined in 2009. She teaches Human Rights Law and Family and Child Law as final-year elective subjects and convenes the International Dispute Settlement module on the Master's programme in Public International Law.

Visit Dr Draghici's academic profile

Other Centre members: Sarah Forster, James Turner QC

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City, University of London

Northampton Square

London EC1V 0HB

United Kingdom

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