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Sara Anning

Called 1994

Sara Anning is a highly-skilled advocate with considerable and wide-ranging expertise in family children law matters.  She has substantial experience in all courts up to the level of the Court of Appeal, particularly in cases before the High Court and has been against Leading Counsel on a number of occasions.

Sara was appointed as a First Tier Tribunal Judge in 2019 and was assigned to the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber, including covering Mental Health jurisdiction.

In 2019 Sara was appointed a Recorder (Family) sitting on the North Eastern Circuit.

She became head of the chambers Family Team in 2019.

"Her work is of a consistently high level." "She is approachable, highly contactable and has a sympathetic and friendly approach to client care."

Chambers & Partners 2020
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Areas Of Expertise

Areas of Expertise
Family: Children
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Sara acts for Parents, Local Authorities, relatives and children in complex Public Law proceedings involving non-accidental injuries, sexual abuse, fabricated/induced illness and placement of children outside of the jurisdiction.  Sara’s practice further includes the whole range of Private Law children applications including child arrangement orders, relocation within and removal from the jurisdiction, same-sex parenting arrangements and cases with an international element.

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Chambers and Partners 2021 (Band 3)

She is just excellent - very easy to speak to and brilliant with the client." "She has a thorough grasp of complicated legal issues, a calm, measured approach and the ability to present written submissions clearly and coherently." "She is robust, focused and forthright with clear and precise advocacy skills."

Legal 500 2021 -(Tier 1) -

Sara's impressive intellect and fine attention to detail makes her my overall preferred Counsel. She approaches her advocacy and advice with an ability to factor in all evolving aspects of the matter fluidly. She offers welcome practical advice outside of her specific brief and never shirks from any task, however small, that will assist in advancing the position of her lay client.

Legal 500 2020 -(Tier 1) -

Proactive, approachable and attentive. ’ 

Chambers and Partners 2020 (Band 3)

"Her work is of a consistently high level." "She is approachable, highly contactable and has a sympathetic and friendly approach to client care."

Chambers & Partners 2019 (Band 3)

"Her client care goes above and beyond."

Chambers & Partners 2018 (Band 3)

A specialist in children work, who acts for local authorities, children and guardians, and has particular experience in cases concerning allegations of severe harm, including physical and sexual abuse. Also takes on cases concerning same-sex parenting, artificial insemination and adoption.

Strengths: "She is professional and effective." "She is extremely hard-working and well prepared."

Chambers & Partners 2017

A specialist in children work, who acts for guardians, children and local authorities and has particular experience in cases concerning allegations of severe harm, including physical and sexual abuse. Also takes on cases concerning same-sex parenting and artificial insemination.

Chambers & Partners 2016

Regularly instructed by local authorities in highly sensitive care proceedings. Her practice is exclusively focused on children work, and she is noted for her expertise in handling cases with serious allegations of harm against children.

Strengths: "Her attention to detail is unsurpassed. She has a very forensic, analytical mind." 

Recent work: Represented the maternal grandmother in a complex High Court case concerning a disabled mother who died while in the care of her father.

Notable Cases
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Recent cases in 2016.

Re N represented the Local Authority with Leading Counsel in the High Court.    Rehearing of a case where findings of sexual abuse had been made against the F in his absence 19 years earlier, to re-litigate those matters in his presence in 2016.

 Re A represented the Father in the High Court finding of fact hearing allegations of sexual abuse, child had retracted the allegations and gave evidence at the hearing.

 Re K represented the Local Authority in the Court of Appeal, issues relating to the enforceability of findings against a person who was not a party to the proceedings in which the findings were made.

 Re A represented the children in the Court of Appeal, considering issues related to the adoption of an older child with disabilities creating a life long need for parental support.

Re C represented the Local Authority in a case of a severely disabled and orphaned child addressing in particular whether the threshold criteria was met.

A (Children) [2015] EWCA Civ 1254 (08 December 2015)

T (A Child) (Early Permanence Placement) 2015 EWCA Civ 983- Sara appeared on behalf of the paternal grandparents. The President’s judgment in the Court of Appeal in the case of Re T, handed down 24/09/15.  An important case dealing with the rights of ‘fostering for adoption’ carers, applications to intervene in care proceedings and for permission to apply for an adoption order when a family placement is a real possibility.

JB v KS [2015] EWHC 180 (Fam) –  Represented a child in Private law children proceedings.  Child conceived by agreement between lesbian woman and heterosexual man.  Home donation of sperm.  Whether the father should be granted a parental responsibility order and what time he should spend with the child.

Re C [2015] – Represented a Mother with long standing mental health issues and previous children removed.  The psychiatrist instructed recommended therapeutic intervention.  Through negotiation with the Local Authority using the authority of Re B-S to support Mother’s position the Local Authority agreed to fund private therapeutic intervention for Mother during the proceedings to promote the possibility of rehabilitation of baby.

Re W [2015] – Represented the Local Authority in a High Court matter involving assessment of extended family members in another European state.  Consideration required of Article 15, Article 55 of BIIR and The Hague Convention.

Re K [2014] – Represented a grandmother in the High Court in respect of care proceedings relating to her disabled grandson.  Allegation that the grandfather caused the death of the child’s Mother (disabled adult).

Re C [2014] –  Represented a Father who admitted punching his 5 week old baby.  Finding of fact hearing about allegations of historic assaults on an older child. Extremely complex evidence where the instructed experts contradicted the findings of the previously treating clinicians and the child was possibly suffering from an inherited genetic disorder.  Required careful and strategic cross examination of experts and treating clinicians.  The judge accepted Sara's submissions and no findings were made in respect of the older child.

Re S & W [2014] – Represented the Local Authority, allegations of extensive sexual abuse by Mother and Father of their child.  Both involved in social media for paedophiles.  Preparation required cross referencing and scheduling of lengthy and complex telephone and internet records in order to produce clarity as to the involvement of both Mother and Father.

Re H [2013] – Represented a child in a High Court finding of fact hearing where the allegation was that the child had been shaken.  Complex medical evidence relating to injuries including subdural and retinal haemorrhages resulting from 2 sets of injuries one of which was a known accident.

Re D [2013] – Represented a Local Authority in an application made under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court before the baby’s birth.  Mother wanted the Local Authority to remove the child at birth without any disclosure to her husband, who she stated was not the unborn child’s Father.

Re W & B – [2013] -  Represented the Father in the Court of Appeal. Mother’s application for internal relocation where the parents had previously enjoyed a shared care arrangement.

Re A [2012]– Represented a Local Authority in the High Court allegation that Father or Mother had murdered their young child.   Case managed to a conclusion throughout a protracted period of time with parallel criminal investigation and trial.

Re H [2012] – Represented a Mother with leading counsel.  Allegation that her child had been sexually abused, the only evidence was that the child was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease.  Complex expert evidence from a microbiologist and paediatric gynaecologist.

Re P [2011] – Represented Mother and Father in an application for an injunction to prevent the removal of their child who was the subject of a Care Order.  Order made that the Local Authority had breached the parents’ human rights, damages awarded.

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  • Recorder (Family) North Eastern Circuit
  • First Tier Tribunal Judge assigned to the Health, Education and Social Care Chambers, including covering Mental Health jurisdiction


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Sara provides lectures and seminars for Local Authority legal and social care staff, solicitors and other interested groups. Her lectures are CPD accredited. Recent seminars

2016 ABE- How to question children

2016 Litigation

2015 Public Law: Case Law Update

2014 Re B and Re B-S Pre-proceedings to Final Orders


Personal Details

BA (Hons) 2:1 History and Politics, University of Newcastle. CPE (commendation), University of Huddersfield.

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