Professor Jo Delahunty KC
Strengths: ““Her intellect is extraordinary and her submissions have passion and power behind them. She is also emotionally warm towards clients.” An effective force in the courtroom, who is hard-working and brilliant in terms of both research and cross-examination.” “She’s tenacious, she leaves no stone unturned and she works exceptionally hard.”
Chambers & Partners 2022
Year of Call: 1986
Year of Silk: 2006
MA (Oxon) Jurisprudence
Recorder (South Eastern Circuit) Family: Public and Private Law 2009
Bencher the Honorable Society of Middle Temple 2011
Professor of Law Gresham College, London, 2016-2020
Freedom of the City of London 2019
Emeritus Gresham Professor Law 2020
Fellow Gresham College 2020
Lexis Nexis Awards Judge 2021-Present
Jo sits on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of Middle Temple
Centre for Child and Family Reform (CCFLR) committee 2012–present
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 for attempted murder/ child cruelty and neglect/ sex offences
• Parent or subject child with disabilities (with a particular interest in Child in Need issues, learning disability issues 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 domestic abuse and coercive, controlling behaviour, physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect of a child or alleged parental/partner abuse). Transfer of residence applications and contact disputes. Jo has delivered training to the judiciary and social care professionals on DA/CCB and Vulnerability following her work in RE HN.
Alongside her practice in the Family Division, Jo Delahunty KC worked alongside Mike Mansfield KC 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 KC 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 ‘Band 1, Leading Silk’ by Chambers and Partners in successive editions including the most current
She has been named a ‘Tier 1, Leading Silk by The Legal 500 in successive editions including the most current
Jo has been selected by her peers to be included in the Eighth Edition of The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom for her work in Family Law.
Jo has been included as one of 100 ‘Women of Distinction’ in Middle Temple’s exhibition ‘Celebrating a Century of Women in Law‘
Professional speaking and publications
Jo has had numerous articles published in legal journals (Family Law, Counsel, Law Soc Gazette etc.) and has also gained acclaim for her talks delivered to Barristers, Solicitors, social workers, medical professionals and the public not just on the detail of child protection law but on wider issues affecting the profession such as harassment and bullying, (in)equality at the Bar, work place pressures at The Bar.
Jo has spoken on joint platforms with speakers who are as passionate about child protection and fairness and equality issues as she is. Notably:
- Resolution keynote speech (2022)
- Justice (2022)
- Bar Council ( 2021)
- FLBA (Multiple)
- The Bar and Young Bar Conference (2021)
- Australian NSW Annual Child Protection Conference (2020 and 2021)
She has delivered training to the judiciary on domestic abuse and ccb and vulnerable parties.
She lectured on Coercive Control to the Sussex Family Justice Board Annual Training event 2021.
Jo sat on the Bar Council Bullying and Wellbeing Summit in 2022
Jo sat on the panel for the Bar Council Race Summit roundtable discussions in Sept 2021
Jo is on the Nuffield Research Project on disability and the child protection system .
Jo actively supports the MT, MTYBA & MTSA ; eg, the International Women’s Day Event where speakers discussed intersectionality, diversity, equality and current topical issues within the profession, Middle Temple ‘Survive & Thrive – Judge: Friend or Foe’ on the relationship between Advocates and Members of the Judiciary.
Jo has been interviewed by BBC Radio 4 for ‘The World Tonight’ where she discussed the significance and importance of the Bar Councils Judicial Bullying Guidance.
Jo was on national TV interviewed by NewsNight (Dec 2021) on the issue of children on the child protection register killed by parents.
Her interviews for the Advocacy Podcast Brief 15 on ‘Winning the Unwinnable Cases’ (Feb 22) and Brief 16 ‘Understanding the Unfamiliar’ (June 22) have over 1000 + downloads.
Jo’s podcast for Resolution No 6 “The Right Thing to Do” hosted by Anita Mehta and Simon Blain (Oct 21) led to an invitation to give the keynote speech at the Resolution Conference in March 2022 and a follow up Resolution interview with Jo is to be published by Counsel on March 2023
Jo gave the keynote speech at the Young Lawyers Making Change Conference 2021. The conference is aimed at junior and aspiring social welfare lawyers practising legal aid.
“The most destructive thought” interview can be viewed here.
Jo’s interview for episode 9 ‘The Leaky Pipeline’ of the ‘First 100 Years’ podcast is available online.
Publications and Teaching
Jo Delahunty KC was appointed Professorship of Law to Gresham College (Est 1597) in 2016-2020.
She was appointed Emeritus Professor of Law Gresham College (for life) and made a Fellow of Gresham College in 2020; She has also been appointed to sit on Council and has been made a Trustee of Gresham College. This role is taken up alongside her full time silk practice and Recorder Duties.
As Emeritus Professor of Law Jo will continue to give public lectures for Gresham periodically. Her most recent lecture took place on 19th January 2023 with Professor Owen Arthurs on the interface between medicine and law in family cases; `Medical Experts in the Family Court: where two worlds collide’
This 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.
Jo’s previous lectures and notes are available to download via the Gresham website.
Her final lecture for Gresham College as their Professor of Law was delivered, on 1st April 2021, ‘Diversity in the Legal Profession’. With invited guests, Derek Sweeting KC, Chair of the Bar Council, Brie Stevens- Hoare KC, Mass Ndow Njie (creator of Bridging The Bar) and Toby Stevens.
The Practice of Law (2019-2020)
1. Have Women Achieved Professional Equality? 100 Years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal)
3. Can the Law Keep Up With Changes in Society?
4. The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Barrister
5. The Law is Broken: The Future of Legal Aid
6. Diversity in the Legal Profession
Challenges in the Family Justice System (2018-19)
1. Ethics In and Out of the Court Room
2. Sexual Harassment at the Bar
3. The 30th Anniversary of The Children Act 1989: Is It Still Fit For Purpose?
4. Politics and the Legal Profession
5. The Child and Medical Treatment: The Chance to Live, or to Die with Dignity?
6. Wellbeing at the Bar? Is a Family Lawyer’s Work all Stress and Distress?
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?
5. The Child in the Family Court Room: Whose Child is it Anyway?
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?
2. Is One Individual’s Radicalism another’s Right to Free Speech?
4. Guilty Until Proven Innocent
5. Expert Witness: a Zero Sum Game?
6. ‘Two Point One Children’: Why There Is No Typical Family in The Family Court
Corporate Speaking Profile
Alongside her public speaking engagements for lawyers, Jo is in demand for talks to the business community and corporate industry on issues such as leadership and teamwork, coping under pressure and transferable skills please see: https://harveythorneycroft.co.uk/speakers/professor-jo-delahunty-qc/
Organisations she has been invited to deliver talks to include;
- International Trade and Tourism (ITT), Croatia 2020/MSC Cruises 2021/Istanbul 2022
- Amadeus (Malaga)
- AFC Bournmouth
- Australia NSW Child Protection Conference (Sydney; 2019 & 2020)
- Brilliant Minds Showcase
- MKM Builders
- Opex Leaders Europe Conference – ‘Big Ideas’ invited speaker
Typical subjects include- ‘The importance of transparent and effective communication within the company and with the public.’; ‘Change and Challenge; how to make it work for you and your customers.’; ‘Risk taking and strategic thinking.’
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.For Counsel, examples include ‘the Day in the life…of a child protection silk’ where she discusses the exhilaration and endurance challenge of working to the max as a child abuse public lawyer; ‘PTSD and working in an underfunded sector’; ‘On the shoulder of giants’ discussing gender equality in the Bar. Jo wrote for ‘The Barrister’ on ‘Wellbeing at the Bar? Is a Legal Aid Lawyer’s Work All Stress and Distress?’ and on ‘Politics and the law: Where do we draw the line?’;
Articles for Jordans Family Law cover the wide spectrum of her cases; ie a 3 part series on the Rights of Parents with Disabilities in the Family Justice System , ‘The 30th anniversary of the Children Act 1989: is it still fit for purpose?’;
‘The child and medical treatment: the chance to live, or to die with dignity?’ Previous articles published by Jordan’s have sought to explain the ramifications of emerging research on childhood disease 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.
Association of Women Barristers (AWB)
Association of Women Judges (AWI)
Family Law Bar Association
United Kingdom Association of Part Time Judges (UKAPTJ)
Patron of the Association of Women Barristers (AWB)
Ambassador for Bridging the Bar
Patron of AMEND (The Association for Multiple Endocrine Disorders)
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, radicalisation and abuse. She is particularly experienced in cases involving non-accidental injury to children.
“Really bright and a great tactician, Jo is a great opponent.” “She’s very friendly, has an easy manner and is extremely good in cross-examination. A barrister who knows her papers off by heart, she’s very forensic in court.”
Chambers & Partners 2023
‘Experienced public law barrister’ Jo Delahunty KC is admired for her ‘exceptional cross-examination skills’ and has extensive experience in handling child abuse cases in the High Court.
Legal 500, 2023
Strengths: “An effective force in the courtroom, who is hard-working and brilliant in terms of both research and cross-examination.” “She’s tenacious, she leaves no stone unturned and she works exceptionally hard.” “Her intellect is extraordinary and her submissions have passion and power behind them. She is also emotionally warm towards clients.”
Chambers & Partners 2022
‘Jo is a tactician of the highest order, and absolutely outstanding as an advocate. She has fantastic client care skills and an incisive intellect’
Legal 500, 2022
Strengths: “Jo Delahunty is a legend. She is immensely knowledgeable and very able when it comes to complex child injury cases.” “A master strategist who gains the trust of clients, she knows exactly what to get out of witnesses.”
Chambers & Partners 2021
‘Is as captivating on her feet as she is persuasive in negotiation. She is extraordinarily tenacious, kind and brave at work, and looks for all-encompassing and human solutions for children taking properly into account the wider implications in each family’s dynamic.’
Among the standout practitioners at 4PB is Prof Jo Delahunty QC, who has been described as a ‘trailblazer, a passionate advocate for the publicly-funded Bar’.
Legal 500, 2021
Strengths: “A phenomenal cross-examiner, who gets unbelievable results.” “She has an extraordinary grasp of medical evidence.”
Chambers & Partners 2020
‘The set has many “excellent” barristers including Prof Jo Delahunty QC who “dominates every case she is in.”‘
‘Is extremely well respected by judges and is a real force to be reckoned with.’
Legal 500, 2020
Strengths: “She is fantastic on tactics and very impressive on the law.” “She has excellent analytical skills and a great grasp of complex medical evidence. Her advocacy is robust, and she’s amazing to watch.”
Chamber & Partners 2019
‘She is a very robust cross-examiner.’
Legal 500, 2019
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.”
Chamber & Partners 2018
‘She displays razor-sharp analysis and a clear sense of direction.’
Legal 500, 2017
Strengths: “She is exceptional in every way and has an attention to detail beyond any other silk right now.”
Chambers & Partners 2017
“She is an absolute force of nature and a star in court.”
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 to determine whether the medical response was acceptable.
Chambers & Partners 2016
A dedicated children 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
A formidable advocate, and fascinating to watch and learn from.
Legal 500 2015 Top Tier
A masterful tactician and a brilliantly passionate advocate.
Legal 500 2014 Top Tier
Specialises in children law. She has handled some complex and often controversial disputes involving child death, and ritualised and sexual abuse.
Expertise: “Superb. She has one of the sharpest brains I know, and is very forensic and tactical.” “Exceptional. She works incredibly hard, is excellent at cross-examination and great at presenting a case at court.”
Recent work: Delahunty represented a teenage mother who was falsely accused of inflicting multiple fractures to a newborn baby, killing him by shaking/impact. The case involved cross-examining 40 medics and 16 experts.
Chambers & Partners 2014
Jo Delahunty QC has ‘a phenomenal brain, and great forensic skill’.
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the area of Children Law
Legal 500 2013 Top Tier
The “absolutely brilliant” Jo Delahunty QC is a children law expert who deals with cases involving issues such as catastrophic injury, sexual abuse and ritualized abuse. She is reputed to be particularly strong in cases with daunting medical aspects, with sources noting that “she dissects extremely complex medical concepts with ease.”
Chambers & Partners 2013
Jo Delahunty QC, who has ‘a sharp forensic eye and an extraordinary memory’, recently acted in the high-profile cases of Re E (Children) and LB of Islington v Al Alas and Wray.
The Legal 500, 2012
The “absolutely superb” Jo Delahunty QC is another at the set to handle the most complex children cases, often involving sexual assault and complex medical issues. She has in the last twelve months handled a number of non-accidental injury matters.
Chambers and Partners 2012
Jo Delahunty QC is much admired for public children work. “Her conversational style of advocacy puts witnesses at their ease, yet conceals a rapier-like incisiveness.”
Chambers and Partners 2011
Jo Delahunty QC has ‘a razor-sharp mind with a phenomenal work-rate’
Recommended as a Leading Silk in children’s law in Legal 500 2011
Jo Delahunty QC is “young, dynamic and making waves in every case she gets involved in.”
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2010
The set was recently bolstered by the arrival of Jo Delahunty QC. Delahunty has particular prowess advising on complex care cases, particularly where there are allegations of abuse.
Recommended as a leading Silk in The Legal 500 2010
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the Legal Experts 2010
Jo Delahunty QC applies a “relaxed, straightforward and no-nonsense” attitude to her work and can often be seen acting in complex care proceedings.
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2009
Jo Delahunty QC has expertise in complex care proceedings including the death of, or catastrophic injuries to children.
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in The Legal 500 2009
Recommended as a Leading Family Silk in the Legal Experts 2009
Jo Delahunty QC most frequently represents parents in public law care proceedings. She also acted for alleged perpetrators in sex abuse cases who were themselves minors, thus subject to the Children’s Act. “I find her a challenging opponent and admire her very much for it,” commented one opposing counsel.
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2008
Jo Delahunty QC has particular expertise in care proceedings and child protection issues. Peers note that she is an “exceptionally well-prepared lawyer who is ready on paper to destroy your case.” In court, she “fights hard, yet always maintains her focus on the child.”
Recommended as a Leading Silk in Chambers and Partners 2007.