Henry Setright QC
“Among the international children cases, he’s God basically. He is utterly pre-eminent in what he does.”
“An absolute class above. His tactics are second to none.”
Chambers & Partners 2015
Year of Call: 1979
Year of Silk: 2001
Deputy High Court Judge (Family Division)
Henry Setright QC was called to the English Bar in 1979 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2001. He has for many years specialised in international children’s and family work at the highest level, including cases in the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights, the House of Lords, the Court of Appeal, and the High Court, and as lead English counsel in two cases on Amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court.
He has (so far) appeared in more than 130 leading cases reported in the English Family Law Reports, a total not to date equalled by any other member of the Bar. His work to date has included (for example) consideration of issues relating to acquiescence, adoption, asylum, attempted assassination, care proceedings, children’s representation, children’s views, conflict and transfer of jurisdiction in public and private law cases, custody rights, diplomatic privilege, forced marriage, habitual residence, domestic violence, human rights, immigration, marriage, relocation, risk of harm, Sharia law, settlement, international and domestic surrogacy, and welfare in the context of international family litigation.
International work at the highest domestic level has since 2005 included 5 cases in the House of Lords and 8 cases in the UKSC, four of which – A v A  UKSC 60, KL  UKSC 75, LC  UKSC 1, and K  UKSC 29 – have been heard in the last 12 months.
In October 2009 he appeared in Re: I UKSC 10 , on jurisdiction and the interface in a non EU (Anglo-Pakistan) case with the Brussels II revised regulation – it was the first Family case in the UK Supreme Court.
He led an English team presenting a brief in the landmark rights of custody appeal of Abbott v Abbott, the first 1980 Hague Convention case to be heard in the United States Supreme Court (judgment in USSC 17th May 2010), and in the subsequent Hague Settlement case of Lozano v Alvarez, also in the USSC, judgment 5th March 2014 .
He has also appeared in Hague Convention cases in the ECtHR, notably Ignaccola-Zenide v Romania, Carlsson v Switzerland, and, leading an English team, in the landmark Grand Chamber case of X v Latvia, judgment 26th November 2013.
He appeared in the first family case referred by the English Court of Appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union (Mercredi v Chaffe Case C 497/10 PPU judgment 23rd December 2010) on habitual residence in children’s cases. He appeared in May 2014 in a second CJEU case referred by the English Court of Appeal, E v B, judgment currently awaited.
The 2014 Family Law Reports (as of early June 2014) feature nine of his recent cases.
Other cases include Chief Constable and Another v YK and others  EWCA Fam 2438) in relation to disclosure and the conduct of forced marriage hearings, on marriage/immigration policy R (Bibi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)  UKSC 45 EWCA Civ 1482, and In addition to his court appearances, he lectures regularly in England and internationally at conferences and seminars. He is the author of numerous articles on international family law, and is co-author of International Parental Child Abduction (Jordans/Family Law).
He is one of the originators of, and sits on the steering group of, the Reunite/Nuffield Foundation pilot scheme for mediation in child abduction cases, and assisted in the drafting of the Forced Marriages Bill introduced by Lord Lester of Herne Hill in late 2006, and now passed into law.
A name that immediately springs to mind when one talks of cross-border children cases. Peers respect him due to his utter command of the area.
Strengths: “He is a star. There it is. Full stop.” “For difficult international cases he is the top dog at the Bar.” “He’s really looked to by judges when they need an explanation of what’s going on. He’s an absolute repository of knowledge.”
Chambers & Partners 2016
Simply the best in international child abduction matters.
Legal 500 2015
Revered for his talents in the field of abduction law. He is frequently involved in the most significant and ground-breaking children law cases at an international level.
Expertise: “Among the international children cases, he’s God basically. He is utterly pre-eminent in what he does.” “An absolute class above. His tactics are second to none.”
Recent work: Instructed in a landmark international case on the approach to the 1980 Hague Convention. The matter marked a major change in human rights law.
Chambers & Partners 2015
Henry Setright QC ‘Pre-eminent in the field of child abduction and international work.’
Legal 500 2014
Henry Setright QC continues to be regarded by market sources as pre-eminent in international children matters, especially child abudction cases.
Expertise: “Superb and very good with clients.” “He is excellent in cases requiring technical aspects of the law.”
Recent work: Appeared in Qulia Bibi and Aguila v SSHD, a watershed case in the Supreme Court concerning forced marrigae and restrictions on marriage for under-21s. The case has been instrumental in changing English law, causing the abandonment of UK immigration policy regarding restrictions on entry for that class.
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2014
Henry Setright QC is ‘the best advocate around’.
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the area of Children Law
Legal 500 2013 Top Tier
Henry Setright QC is “undoubtedly amongst the best there is” on international children’s cases and child abduction, relates one admiring source. Recent cases have included Quila Bibi and Aguila v the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, a landmark case on forced marriages and restrictions on marriages for under-21s. His record in cases of such importance led one interviewee to remark that “he is a very long way ahead of the second best barrister in international children’s disputes.”
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2013
Henry Setright QC is ‘among the best practitioners in child abduction and other international cases’.
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the Legal 500 2012 (First Tier for Children Law)
When it comes to cross-jurisdictional children disputes, Henry Setright QC “is amongst the best advocates in the market.” He was recently involved in Mercredi v Chaffe, the first family case referred by the English Court of Appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Sources say that “he is tactically astute and has excellent cross-examination skills.
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2012 (Star Performer)
‘Devastating advocate’ Henry Setright QC is ‘unrivalled in this area’.
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the Legal 500 2011 (First Tier for Children Law)
Henry Setright QC is a leading expert in cross-jurisdictional children disputes. He recently represented the interveners in Re I (A Child), the first family law case to be heard in the Supreme Court. According to sources, “he is an unbeatable cross-examiner with an encyclopaedic knowledge of international law.”
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2011 (Star Performer)
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the Legal 500 2010
“Setright is a distinguished figure in the field of international abduction”.
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2010
‘Henry Setright QC is the go-to man when it comes to international work’as ‘there isn’t anything he doesn’t know’, according to market sources. A ‘formidable advocate’, he is a ‘wonderful tactician with a sharp analytical mind’ who applies his skills to a high-profile practice focusing on international children and family work.
Chambers & Partners 2009
4 Paper Buildings recently welcomed international family law specialist Henry Setright QC.
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the Legal 500 2009
A very impressive advocate at the peak of his powers… Henry Setright QC routinely argues several cases a year in the Court of Appeal and/or the House of Lords – most but not all of these relate to international child abduction or other cross-border child issues falling under Brussel II regulations. ‘Very notable in the area, and justifiably so’, he sets the tone for many of the juniors in the set.
Chambers and Partners 2008
Henry Setright QC is ‘your man in child abduction’ matters due to his ‘unrivalled knowledge of abduction law’. In addition to his sterling international children law practice, he has also ventured into the field of forced marriages.
Chambers and Partners 2007
Henry Setright QC has been in over 80 reported family cases (more than anyone else at the bar) and has ‘accumulated more knowledge and kudos than many could hope for in a lifetime.’ International child abduction is his strong suit in a practice that takes in children matters generally. He has further been a pioneer in the area of forced marriages.
Chambers and Partners 2006
Henry Setright QC is rated as a leading Silk by Chambers Directory. His particular bent is towards legal matters pertaining to child abduction, an area where few can effectively challenge him. ‘The most experienced and well-regarded international child abduction barrister – he is a wonderful tactician.
Chambers and Partners 2005