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Jo Delahunty QC

Called Called in 1986, Year of Silk: 2006



About Jo Delahunty QC

“Expert in children work, she is brilliant at distilling a case down to its key issues and is great at strategic planning. Very supportive to instructing solicitors, she’s easy to talk to.”
Chambers & Partners 2018 – Band 1

Jo specializes in contentious and highly complex cases at High Court level and above involving:

• The death of / catastrophic injuries to a child

• Non Accidental Head Injury (NAHI) / Shaken baby allegations (TRIAD cases)

• Vitamin D / Rickets / EDS / genetic disorders and congenital malformations which can mimic child abuse

• Fabricated Induced Illness (FII) allegations

• ISIS cases: alleged radicalisation of children / risk of flight to Syria

• Sexual abuse (Intergenerational / Inter sibling/ maternal rape/ genital mutilation / internet exploitation)

• Ritualized child abuse /cultural practices such as Kndoki

• Child protection cases involving concurrent criminal prosecution attempted murder/ child cruelty and neglect / sex offences

• Parent or subject childwith disabilities (with a particular interest in Child in Need and the rights of, and services for, a disabled child and /or adult parent within care proceedings)

• Cases involving cross examination of a child or vulnerable adult

• Re-litigation / challenge to historic findings of abuse based on emerging science / fresh factual evidence.

Complex private law proceedings involving allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect (alcoholism / psychiatric issues) involving transfer of residence applications and contact disputes are a natural corollary to her practice.

Alongside her practice in the Family Division, Jo Delahunty QC worked alongside Mike Mansfield QC and Barristers from Garden Court Chambers and Doughty Street to represent 77 families at the Hillsborough inquests. On 26.4.16 the longest running Inquest in English legal history came to an end and the jury found that the 96 victims of the disaster who died on 15.4.89 were unlawfully killed and that no fan behaviour caused or contributed to the deaths. Jo Delahunty QC was responsible for leading the team on behalf of 77 families that successfully exposed the failures of the South Yorkshire Ambulance Service to respond to the disaster and the jury found that those failings were so fundamental that they led to or caused loss of life.

Jo has been ranked as a ‘Top Ranked Silk’ by Chambers and Partners in successive editions including the most current.

She has been named a ‘Top Tier ‘Leading Silk by The Legal 500 in successive editions including the most current.

Jo has had numerous articles published in legal journals and has also gained acclaim for her seminars page delivered to Barristers, Solicitors, social work and medical professionals and the public on family law matters and access to justice. Jo has spoken on joint platforms with speakers who are as passionate about child protection and fairness and equality issues as she is: notably the Association of Lawyers for Children, The Criminal Bar Association, the Academy of Experts, and most recently spoke at the launch of ‘Behind The Gown’. 

Jo has been selected by her peers for inclusion in the Seventh Edition of The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom for her work in Family Law.






Personal Details

Education: MA (Oxon) Jurisprudence
Professional Associations: Association of Women Barristers Family Law Bar Association The Temple Women's Forum (steering committee) 2011 – present Centre for Child and Family Reform (CCFLR) committee 2012 – present Patron of AMEND (The Association for Multiple Endocrine Disorders)
Appointments: Public Law Family Recorder (South Eastern Circuit) 2009 Bencher the Honorable Society of Middle Temple 2011 Professor of Law Gresham College, London, 2016 Door Tenant at Parklane Plowden Chambers

Specialist Practice Areas


Chambers & Partners 2018 Band 1

Highly sought-after specialist children silk entrusted with the most significant and demanding national cases. She regularly handles matters concerning the most serious injuries and fatalities resulting from sexual assault, radicalism and abuse. She has particular expertise in matters concerning a large amount of complex expert evidence following investigation. 

Strengths: "Expert in children work, she is brilliant at distilling a case down to its key issues and is great at strategic planning. Very supportive to instructing solicitors, she's easy to talk to."

The Legal 500 2017

She displays razor-sharp analysis and a clear sense of direction. Ranked: tier 1.   

Chambers & Partners 2017- 

Highly sought-after specialist children Silk entrusted with the most significant and demanding national cases. She has particular expertise in matters concerning a large amount of complex expert evidence following investigation. 

Strengths: "She is exceptional in every way and has an attention to detail beyond any other silk right now."

The Legal 500 2016

Specialises in serious cases where sexual and physical abuse are alleged. She is the only family law practitioner to be involved in the Hillsborough Inquest.

Strengths: "She is deservedly pre-eminent. She has a brilliant mind, and is one of the few who is as good a fearsome cross-examiner as she is arguing the law in the Supreme Court." "She is very detailed in her approach and has an immaculate knowledge of the papers."

Recent work: Has been acting on behalf of 75 families in the Hillsborough Inquest to try and determine whether the medical response was acceptable. 

Chambers & Partners 2016

Band 1

"She is an absolute force of nature and a star in the court"

Band 1

A dedicated children's lawyer who focuses on difficult public law matters and care proceedings concerning allegations of sexual and emotional abuse. Also handles cases involving the death of children.

Expertise: "A first port of call for care work," "she is extremely hard-working, knowledgeable and very committed to the client that she represents. Jo is a very tactical and effective advocate, who is good to observe and learn from."
Chambers & Partners 2015
Band 1

‘the decision of the children’s solicitor and junior counsel to instruct Miss Delahunty QC was, in my view, both wise and responsible ‘  per Lord Justice McFarlane  Re A (2012) EWCA Civ 1477

Recently Concluded Cases

11/04/2018 P (A Child), Re (2018) Kate Branigan QC ,Jo Delahunty QC [2018] EWCA Civ 720

29/01/2016 C, D & E (Radicalisation: Fact-Finding) (2016) Jo Delahunty QC [2016] EWHC 3087 (Fam)

06/02/2013 Re A (A Child) (Costs) (2013) Jo Delahunty QC [2013] EWCA Civ 43

29/01/2013 Re A and B (Children) [2013] Jo Delahunty QC [2013] EWHC B22 (Fam)

16/11/2012 Re A (A Child) (2012) Jo Delahunty QC [2012] EWCA Civ 1477

16/11/2012 Re A (A Child) [2012] Jo Delahunty QC [2012] EWCA Civ 1477

19/04/2012 Islington London Borough Council v (1) Chana Al-Alas (2) Rohan Wray (3) Jayda Faith Al -Alas Wray (By Her Children’s Guardian Dorthy Pottinger) (2012) Jo Delahunty QC [2012] EWHC 865 (Fam); [2012] 2 FLR 1239 : (2012) 128 BMLR 1 : [2012] Fam Law 943

19/01/2012 Re M (A Child) (2012) Jo Delahunty QC, Joanne Brown [2012] EWCA Civ 165: [2012] 2 FLR 121 : [2012] Fam Law 511

14/12/2011 K (Children) [2012] Jo Delahunty QC [2012] 2 FLR 745; EWHC Case No. LS09C05566

11/11/2011 A London Borough v O and Others [2011] Alex Verdan QC, Jo Delahunty QC 2011 EWHC 2754 (Fam)

04/07/2011 A County Council (Applicant) v (1) K (2) C (3) T (By the Child’s Guardian HT) (Respondents) & (1) CAFCASS (2) Anonymous Referrer (3) T (4) Nagacro (Interveners) (2011) Jo Delahunty QC [2011] EWHC 1672 (Fam)

18/05/2011 Kent County Council (Respondent) v (1) A Mother (2) F (3) X (A Minor) (4) Y (A Minor) (5) Z (A Minor) (6) IR (Applicants) (2011) Jo Delahunty QC [2011] EWHC 1267 (Fam): [2011] 2 FLR 1088 : [2011] Fam Law 933 : (2011) 108(26) LSG 18

03/03/2011 Kent County Council (Applicant) v (1) A Mother (2) F (3) X, Y, Z (Children) (Respondents) & IR (Intervener) (2011) Jo Delahunty QC [2011] EWHC 402 (Fam)

19/02/2010 Re (1) X (2) Y (3) Z (Care Proceedings: Costs) (2010) Jo Delahunty QC [2011] 1 FLR 1045 : [2010] Fam Law 800

08/05/2009 A Local Authority v S (2009) Jo Delahunty QC, Alison Grief QC, Rob Littlewood [2009] EWHC 2115 (Fam); (2010) 1 FLR 1560

24/06/2008 X Local Authority v N J & 6 Ors (2008) Jo Delahunty QC, Alistair G Perkins (2008) 2 FLR 1389; [2008] EWHC 1484 (Fam)

11/06/2008 Re B (Children) (2008) Jo Delahunty QC, Alison Grief QC [2008] UKHL 35; (2008) 3 WLR 1 : (2008) 4 All ER 1 : (2008) 2 FLR 141 : (2009) 1 AC 11 : Times, June 12, 2008

25/07/2006 (1) Haringey London Borough Council (2) Hackney London Borough Council v MRS S & 7 Ors(2006) Jo Delahunty QC [2006] EWHC 2001 (Fam)

14/04/2006 Re X Sub Nom Barnet LBC v Y (2006) Jo Delahunty QC (2006) 2 FLR 998


Jo writes for specialist legal journals – including ‘Counsel’ Magazine and ‘The Barrister’ and is a regular invited contributor to the Jordan’s Family Law monthly periodical (most recently a a 3 part series on the Rights of Parents with Disabilities in the Family Justice System 2018)

Previous articles published by Jordans’ have sought to explain the ramifications of emerging research on childhooddisease and suspected child abuse and natural disease mimicking inflicted injury , the role of experts in family proceedings, and issues arising within alleged Radicalism cases confronting family practitioners and the Family Division.

Publications and Teaching

Jo Delahunty QC was appointed Professorship of Law to Gresham College( est 1597) in 2016 ; a role she maintains alongside her silk practice.
In her capacity as Gresham Professor of Law, Professor Delahunty QC continues the 421-year-old tradition of delivering free public lectures within the City of London at Bernard’s Inn and via live streamed web to the UK and internationally. The annual series of six free public lectures  confrontsissues arising from her child protection practice and the family justice processes around families and children.

The hour-long free public lectures take place at the Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N and are livestreamed : the lecture and notes are available to download via the Gresham website

Transparency in the Family Justice System (2017-18)

1. Women Lawyers: Equals At The Bar?

2. What Do Judges Do in the Family Court?

3. Vulnerable Clients and The Family Justice System

4. Dealing with Sex Abuse: How Does the Family Court Assess Risk?

6. Transparency in the Family Court: What Goes On Behind Closed Doors?

When Worlds Collide: The Family and the Law (2016-17)

1. Sex Death and Witchcraft: What Goes On In the Family Court Room?

3. When Legal Worlds Collide

6. ‘Two Point One Children’: Why There Is No Typical Family in The Family Court




ALC Annual Conference Nov 2010 ‘The Child as a Witness: Whose Right is it Anyway’

Grand Stand Seminar Park Lane Plowden Leeds 24.3.10 ‘Children Giving Evidence: Where the Unwary Tread’


Jordan’s Annual Public Law Update 15.3.11 ‘Children in Care Proceedings : putting the new law into context : RE W explained and explored’

“excellent", "engaging", "excellent delivery-engaging-excellent notes" " spoke without notes for her full session: excellent delivery and informative content”

Grandstand  Seminar Park Lane Plowden: York.  22.9.2011 ‘The Child in the Witness Box: preparation for trial and cross examination: Practical Guide’ Speaking with Prof Martin Conway on ‘Children and Memories’

Leicestershire and Rutland Family Justice Council Annual Conference’ on 18.11.11
Panel Debate on a panel with HHJ Lea, Prof Judith Masson with guest speaker King J  


Middle Temple inaugural Women’s Forum launch: 6th March 
“brilliant" "inspirational"

Butterworth Public Child Care Law Conference.  Annual Public Law update 26.6.12
"Fascinating"  "Most inspiring and challenging"  "Delivery was so impressive!  Will impact my practice on NAI"  "Excellent as always"  'Brilliant/re-balancing material."

ALC and CBA: joint seminar 4.7.12 "Child injury and Expert Evidence; the Lessons of Al Alas" Chaired by Martha Cover: Chair of ALC

Speaking with Mike Turner QC and Anya Lewis (leading and junior counsel for Chana Al Alas in the criminal trial)

And JDQC and Kate Purkiss (leading and junior counsel for Chana Al Alas in the care trial)  

Jordan’s; Annual Child Care Conference 20.9.12:
"excellent" "Brilliant - should have had more time" "Informative and well-delivered" "Spellbinding’  

“It was a genuine pleasure to hear Jo Delahunty QC (who is like the most charming intelligent surgical scalpel you will ever meet) speak on the Al Alas Wray case as she was leading counsel for one of the parents, and so had a wealth of useful insights and tactics to put forward.”

FLBA: autumn series lectures Oct 2013 ‘Expert and Medical Evidence in Child Protections Cases: A Practical Guide’

“Formidable”  “inspiring”

Park Lane Plowden Grandstand Seminar: York 18/10/12, speaking on platform with Dr Willie Reardon: Consultant Geneticist.

2013 Forthcoming

17th April 2013: Middle Temple Women’s Forum with Black L J, Sir Paul Coleridge J , R Langdale QC , Martin Forde QC , HHJ Coe on applying for judicial appointment

8th May. Experts Forum: The Academy of Experts; 3 Gray’s Inn Square: Speaker: ‘The Value of an Expert ‘

14th May: Butterworth’s Annual Child Law Conference ‘De Bunking the myth: ‘Parents don’t win care cases’ 

Jo Delahunty QC appointed to 1597 Law Professorship of Gresham College

In her role as Gresham Professor of Law, Professor Delahunty will continue the 419-year-old tradition of delivering free public lectures aimed at the intelligent and interested public within the City of London and beyond.

Professor Delahunty will continue to practice at The Bar during her appointment and, as such, her lectures will reflect developments in law and society. The series of six free public lectures will deal with issues arising from her work with the law and legal processes around families and children, including cases of child abuse, radicalisation and cases which involve complex and contentious medical evidence. The hour-long free public lectures will take place at the Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N:

‘Sex, Death and Witchcraft’: The Family Court – Thursday 6th October 2016, 6pm

Is one person's 'Radicalism' another’s 'Right to Free Speech'? – Thursday 24th January 2017, 6pm

When Legal Worlds Collide – Thursday 26th January, 6pm

Guilty until proven innocent? – Thursday 2nd March, 6pm

Expert Witnesses: a Zero-sum game? – Wednesday 12th April 2017, 6pm

Why there is no typical family in the Family Court – Thursday 4th May 2017


[Full lecture descriptions are available from the Gresham College website: ]


Jo is a sought after speaker at medico/legal family conference for her insights into how to deal with legally and factually challenging cases involving complex medical evidence and emerging science as well as how to manage the cross examination of vulnerable witnesses such as children or adults with a learning disability in court. She has been at the forefront of the rapidly emerging field of Radicalism in the family justice system. Jo was invited to speak alongside Charles Farr, Director –General Counter Terrorism Unit, academics and professionals from Prevent, social work and National Terrorism Unit officers in London, November 2015 on the subject of ‘Radicalisation; Safeguarding and the Family Courts’ .
Jo headlined a conference in Leeds in January 2016 alongside the academic Dr Gordon Clubb, lecturer in International Security and Chair of the Terrorism and Political Violence Association on the ‘Risks of Radicalisation’.

Jo chaired and spoke at the recent 4PB seminar ‘Radicalisation in the Family Courts’ where the audience variously described her as ‘a captivating speaker, a confident chair and so approachable’; ‘very fluent and made a complex topic easier to understand’; ‘skilled effective and clear where law interplays new area of work’; ‘ very inspirational’; ‘Jo delivered brilliantly and really gave us a great understanding of what the radicalisation cases demand from us as lawyers’;‘I appreciate her wit and down to earth style’;’‘She is clearly quick-witted, knowledgeable, pragmatic and very entertaining:the last is useful because it makes one remember the things she has said’;’seminar was very smooth and she had a great command of the audience’

She has been invited to speak at the annual Jordans Family conference on the 4th October 2016 delivering a talk on Radicalisation in the family courts.


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