Harriet Williams

Called 2018

She has an approachable and friendly manner and can provide realistic and sensible advice at all stages of proceedings. Her capabilities are well beyond what would be expected of someone her call, she has an excellent eye for detail, works incredibly hard and is always well prepared. Harriet is a strong advocate, and her submissions are often referred to as forceful and persuasive.

Instructing solicitor (2022)

About

Harriet joined chambers in April 2022 after spending the first few years of her career at the Bar at KBW Chambers. She accepts instructions in all aspects of public and private law children proceedings.

Prior to joining the Bar, Harriet worked in the clinical negligence department of the UK’s leading litigation-only law firm. Her experience in reviewing medical evidence and attending expert conferences in cases of the utmost severity, including spinal and birth injuries, enables her to analyse complex medical evidence, forensic reports and voluminous police disclosure with ease.

Harriet is experienced in particularly sensitive care proceedings, including those heard in the High Court due to legal complexity. She has a special interest in complex care proceedings relating to serious non-accidental injuries, including fractures, significant bruising, fabricated and induced illness, and sexual abuse. She is experienced in representing local authorities, parents, and children via their Children’s Guardian, as well as other relatives or third parties who have been invited to intervene in proceedings. Her wide-ranging experience includes the representation of care-leavers, disabled children and their parents, victims of serious domestic violence, children and adults with complex mental health needs, and those with drug and alcohol addictions.

Harriet’s instructions in private law proceedings regularly include complex cases requiring expert assessment, fact-finding hearings, jurisdictional issues, and the appointment of a Children’s Guardian. She is also experienced in providing advice and representation in Cost Order applications both as an interim position and at the conclusion of proceedings.

Harriet is approachable and builds rapport quickly with lay and professional clients, resulting in regular repeat instructions. She is known for her calm and measured approach and ensures that the client fully understands what to expect from each hearing. Lay clients appreciate not only her compassion and empathy, but her honesty and tactical insight, understanding that she has their best interests at heart, whilst her professional clients appreciate her pragmatic and comprehensive advice, approachable manner, and meticulous preparation to every case.

Areas of Expertise

Public Law Children

Harriet acts for all parties in public law proceedings, including local authorities, children via their Children’s Guardian, parents, grandparents, and other family members or third parties who are invited to intervene in proceedings. Harriet is regularly instructed on behalf of the most vulnerable clients, including care-leavers, victims of domestic violence, and those battling drug or alcohol addiction. She is often instructed by the Official Solicitor to represent parents who lack capacity due to learning difficulties. She also has significant experience of representing clients who require an Intermediary, or other special measures, due to their cognitive and behavioural difficulties. Harriet’s empathy and compassion allows her to build a good rapport with her lay clients, whilst her pragmatic approach enables her to get to the heart of every case.

Private Law Children

Harriet acts for parents, grandparents, and children via their Children’s Guardian under rule 16.4 in private law proceedings. She has experience in conducting finding of fact exercises where serious allegations of domestic violence, sexual abuse or parental alienation are made. In an effort to achieve a swift and cost-effective resolution, Harriet often provides advice at an early stage in proceedings and is on hand to support and guide parties to reach an outcome they are content with.

  • The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn
  • Family Law Bar Association (FLBA)
  • The North Eastern Circuit

Public Law Children

Re K [2022] – Representation of a mother in care proceedings relating to a spiral humerus fracture in an infant. Following cross-examination of four expert witnesses, two of whom conceded that a diagnosis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta could not be excluded without genetic testing, the Court agreed with the submission that it would be disproportionate to continue to pursue a finding of fact exercise in circumstances where the outcome would have little effect on the final care plan.  Proceedings were concluded on day 3 of the 5-day hearing with no findings being made against either parent.

Re A [2021] – Representation of an Intervenor in public law proceedings relating to petechial bruising of a two-year-old in circumstances where the Intervenor was the only adult in the property at the time. The matter was heard over the course of 18 days, there being an adjournment after day 8 for the purposes of a Re W application to hear the evidence of a non-subject child who made further allegations against the Intervenor. The application was allowed, and the child was subsequently cross-examined to the effect that some of the allegations in the Local Authority’s threshold were disproved.

Re S [2021] - Representation of a Local Authority in care proceedings before Mrs Justice Arbuthnot where the Local Authority sought placement and adoption orders in respect of a four-year-old who had been in the care of a third party for much of his life. The orders were opposed by both parents and the couple who had cared for the child. After detailed cross-examination with reference to the voluminous medical and police evidence, the Court agreed that there was evidence to suggest the couple would not be able to provide a good level of care once the child reached adolescence. The placement and adoption orders were granted.

Re M [2021] - Representation of a Local Authority in care proceedings against the mother and Intervenor in respect of genital injuries in an 18-month-old child. Lengthy expert evidence was obtained to explore whether the child was suffering from a skin condition such as Lichen Sclerosis et Atrophicus which would otherwise explain her injuries. Voluminous telephone disclosure was obtained but only provided to the advocates the day prior to the Finding of Fact hearing, meticulous examination of which led to a finding that the mother had failed to protect by deliberately misleading the Court and professionals as to her whereabouts on the day of the incident.

Re L [2021] – Representation of a Local Authority over the course of 11 days in care proceedings against parents for a non-accidental fracture in an infant, requiring cross-examination of 2 experts and 8 lay witnesses (one of whom required the assistance of an intermediary), and involving a s.8 application in the High Court for vaccination. Due to the complexity, both parents were represented by two counsel. All 12 of the findings sought were made against both parents.

Private Law Children

Re G [2021] - Representation of the younger of two children (the elder being Gillick competent and having instructed her own solicitor) in private law proceedings brought by the mother, a Litigant in Person, for the return of both children to her care and the dismissal of the Prohibited Steps Order preventing her from having unsupervised contact with the children. On the Guardian’s instruction, an application was made for enforcement of the Penal Order which accompanied the PSO, and for a s.91(14) order, preventing either parent from bringing further proceedings without the permission of the Court. All but one of the 14 PSO breaches were found, and the s.91(14) order was granted until each child reaches adulthood.

Re H [2020] - Representation of a father in an application for the return of his child after the Local Authority removed her from his care on the basis of allegations made by the mother, against whom findings of emotional harm and parental alienation had been made in previous (private law) proceedings. The Court ordered the immediate return of the child and directed the Local Authority not to remove her from the father again without recourse to Court. The father was privately funded and subsequently considered seeking a Costs Order against the Local Authority. A Skeleton Argument was drafted and disclosed to the Local Authority, following which a settlement of almost the entirety of the father’s costs was negotiated and agreed.

  • The University of Law – BPTC [2018]
  • The University of Law – LLM [2018]
  • The University of Manchester – BA (Hons) Law [2017]
  • The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn – Ann Felicity Goddard Scholarship [2020]
  • The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn – Patrick Back BPTC Scholarship [2018]
  • The University of Manchester – Dean’s Scholarship [2017]