Pupils Richard Harrington and Imogen Gray share their experiences of their first month ‘on their feet’
7 May 2024

Pupils Richard Harrington and Imogen Gray share their experiences of their first month ‘on their feet’

Richard Harrington - Family

If there is a motto to my first month on my feet, it would be to expect the unexpected. Prior to commencing my second six, I never envisaged that I would be dealing with cases involving the jurisdiction of the High Court or that I would be advising clients involved in complex financial remedy proceedings. It turns out I was wrong! I have already received instructions across all three areas of family law and have thoroughly enjoyed the variation in my work.

My first case involved representing a Local Authority in care proceedings at an initial case management hearing. The case concerned whether there should be a declaration not to notify a foreign country of proceedings, whether a declaration was needed that the parents were deceased and whether the significant harm the child had suffered could be attributable to the parents when they were deceased. While there were certainly nerves, it was my first opportunity to apply what I had learnt in the last six months, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

The majority of my instructions this month have come from Local Authorities. An interesting case concerned an application made by a looked after child to change both their forename and surname. While a change of surname is dealt with within section 33(7) of the Children Act 1989, forename is not, and requires the High Court to invoke its inherent jurisdiction. I enjoyed the challenge of researching the law on this point for my skeleton argument and I look forward to representing the Local Authority in the High Court next month.

I also represented clients involved in private law children disputes. A key learning point has been that every client has differing needs, and it is imperative that you can adapt how you communicate your advice to your client. I have witnessed how my input on a case can result in a case settling, whether through firm advice or by negotiating. While I will always look to see whether an agreement can be reached, I have relished the opportunity to advocate on behalf of my clients. Some examples have included persuading the court to make an indefinite prohibited steps order and for the court to disclose the previous and current proceedings to a prospective special guardian.

My first few weeks on my feet have also involved instructions in financial remedy proceedings. As early as my second week, I represented a client who had issued a complex enforcement application. This required detailed research into the different methods of enforcement and overlapped with other areas of law. Due to this, I had to be clear in my advice as to the issues that were within my area of expertise and those that were not.

I am grateful to Chambers and to my clerks for the opportunities they have already provided me and I am excited for what the future holds.

Imogen Gray - Chancery and Commercial

I started my second six at the beginning of April. Over the last month, I have received instructions to attend various hearings and prepare written pleadings and opinions.  

My first set of instructions related to a claim for money arising from a contract for the sale of goods. I approached the case by reviewing the papers, taking further instructions and preparing a short skeleton argument. The case was slightly unusual in that one party had alleged that another had been hacked, and the third-party had induced them to make payment to the wrong account.  

At court, I introduced myself to the claimant and took a copy of the additional evidence that they had brought to court with them. I then had a conference with my client and discussed the issues in the case. Starting the hearing, any feelings of nerves quickly dissipated when I got on my feet. I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to cross-examine during the hearing and I look forward to testing my witness handling skills further over the coming months.

As a chancery and commercial pupil, I undertake a mix of court and paper-based work. Over the last few weeks, I have received instructions to prepare pleadings and written opinions. For example, I recently prepared an opinion for a lay client on the chances of successfully bringing a claim in private nuisance against neighbouring landowners. I started the opinion by undertaking legal research; I found it helpful to revisit the recent Supreme Court judgment in Fearn v The Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery [2023] UKSC 4. In his leading judgment, Lord Leggatt helpfully provides a comprehensive summary of the law and ‘core principles’ of private nuisance. In addition to researching the law, I also had to advise on the practical aspects of the litigation including obtaining further evidence and instructing a suitably qualified expert to provide a report.  

During my second-six, I will continue to observe more senior members of Chambers whenever possible. This month, I attended a High Court trial at the Moot Hall in Newcastle, where my supervisor, Sarah Harrison, was instructed in relation to a will construction claim. In that case, the High Court was asked to interpret a will which left various charitable bequests. There was some uncertainty as to the identity of the intended charities due to the manner in which the will had been drafted. During the hearing, I noted techniques used by my supervisor when making submissions on a technical area of law and when dealing with judicial intervention. Now that I can undertake my own court work, I intend to use my time shadowing to reflect on my advocacy and to incorporate different techniques when on my feet.   

Looking ahead, I have recently received instructions to advise on a number of contentious probate matters. These include a dispute over the validity of a will and an application to remove an executor of an estate. I very much look forward to furthering my experience in traditional chancery work at the Bar.

I would like to say thank you to Stephen and Jodie, my clerking team, for all their help in preparing me to start life as a practising barrister and for their continued support.