Jo Delahunty QC Family Barrister - Public & Private Children Law

Practice Areas

Dispute Resolution


“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.”
Chambers & Partners 2018 – Band 1


Year of Call: 1986
Year of Silk: 2006


MA (Oxon) Jurisprudence


Public Law Family Recorder (South Eastern Circuit) 2009
Bencher the Honorable Society of Middle Temple 2011
Professor of Law Gresham College, London, 2016


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/genetic disorders and congenital malformations which can mimic child abuse
• 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 terrorist offences / trafficking/ attempted murder/ child cruelty and neglect/ sex offences
• Fabricated Induced Illness (FII) allegations
• Parents with disabilities ( with a particular interest in learning disabilities)
• right of and services for a disabled child 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.

Alongside her practice in the Family Division, Jo Delahunty QC worked alongside Mike Mansfield QC 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 QC 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. This had been an area previously unexplored for 27 years because of the original coroners contentious decision to impose a 3.15’ cut off point for enquiry. To read more

Complex private law proceedings involving allegations of physical a, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect (alcoholism/ psychiatric issues) involving transfer of residence applications and contact disputes are a natural corollary to her practice.

Jo was Finalist Family Silk 2014 by The Legal 500
Jo was Winner of Jordan’s Family Silk 2013
Jo was Finalist of Chambers and Partners Silk 2013

She is has been ranked as a ‘Top Ranked Silk’ by Chambers and Partners in successive editions including the most current
She has been named a ‘Top Tier ‘Leading Silk by The Legal 500 in successive editions including the most current

According to her competitors, Jo is noted for her ‘sharp forensic eye and extraordinary memory ‘and her ability to ‘dissect extremely complex medical concepts with ease’. In a highly competitive and specialist silk field, Jo has gained a reputation for ‘formidable’ advocacy and tactical trial management. She has many successful reported cases to her credit and is able to move with ease between highly specialized cross examination of medical experts to sensitive cross examination of a child or vulnerable adult where allegations of sexual abuse arise.
Jo commands a high professional reputation for;

  • forensic insight and tactical skill
  • ‘rapier like’, highly effective, cross examination
  • her ‘phenomenal work rate and razor sharp mind’
  • her willingness to tackle complex medical concepts and to challenge scientific
  • assured negotiation skills
  • pro-active client care
  • a clear and frank analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the case and the determination to achieve the best for the client

Jo has had numerous articles published in legal journals and has also gained acclaim for her seminars delivered to Barristers, Solicitors, social work and medical professionals on family law matters. Jo has spoken on joint platforms with speakers who are as passionate about child protection issues as she is: notably the Association of Lawyers for Children, The Criminal Bar Association and the Academy of Experts.

Publications and Teaching

Jo Delahunty QC appointed to 1597 Law Professorship of Gresham College

In her role as Gresham Professor of Law, Professor Delahunty will continue the 419-year-old tradition of delivering free public lectures aimed at the intelligent and interested public within the City of London and beyond.

Professor Delahunty will continue to practice at The Bar during her appointment and, as such, her lectures will reflect developments in law and society. The series of six free public lectures will deal with issues arising from her work with the law and legal processes around families and children, including cases of child abuse, radicalisation and cases which involve complex and contentious medical evidence. The hour-long free public lectures will take place at the Barnard’s Inn Hall, EC1N:

Jo will also be chairing the lecture “The Family Courts – Are we doing it justice?” on 5th April 2017

Full lecture descriptions are available from the Gresham College website:

Jo is a sought after speaker at medico/legal family conference for her insights into how to deal with legally and factually challenging cases involving complex medical evidence and emerging science as well as how to manage the cross examination of vulnerable witnesses such as children or adults with a learning disability in court. She has been at the forefront of the rapidly emerging field of Radicalism in the family justice system. Jo was invited to speak alongside Charles Farr, Director –General Counter Terrorism Unit, academics and professionals from Prevent, social work and National Terrorism Unit officers in London, November 2015 on the subject of ‘Radicalisation; Safeguarding and the Family Courts’ .

Jo headlined a conference in Leeds in January 2016 alongside the academic Dr Gordon Clubb, lecturer in International Security and Chair of the Terrorism and Political Violence Association on the ‘Risks of Radicalisation’.

Jo chaired and spoke at the recent 4PB seminar ‘Radicalisation in the Family Courts’ where the audience variously described her as ‘a captivating speaker, a confident chair and so approachable’; ‘very fluent and made a complex topic easier to understand’; ‘skilled effective and clear where law interplays new area of work’; ‘ very inspirational’; ‘Jo delivered brilliantly and really gave us a great understanding of what the radicalisation cases demand from us as lawyers’;‘I appreciate her wit and down to earth style’;’‘She is clearly quick-witted, knowledgeable, pragmatic and very entertaining:the last is useful because it makes one remember the things she has said’;’seminar was very smooth and she had a great command of the audience’

She has been invited to speak at the annual Jordans Family conference on the 4th October 2016 delivering a talk on Radicalisation in the family courts.

Jo is regularly invited to speak at professional gatherings: such as the Annual Public Law Conference for Butterworth She regularly delivers seminars for Jordans and has previously chaired  the NAGALRO annual conference .  Sept 2013Jo is regularly invited to write for specialist legal journals – and has a series of articles for Jordans Family law published in their journal and on line throughout 2016 on issues arising from the Radicalism cases that are confronting family practitioners and the Family Division. Click here for part one and here for part two . Part 3 will be published in June 2016

Previous articles published have sought to explain the ramifications of emerging research on child hood disease and suspected child abuse such as :
‘The Vitamin D and Rickets case: LB Islington v Al Alas’, June 2012 Family Law 659;
‘What Price Justice: Experts or Treating Clinicians’ 2012 July FAM Law 882;
‘In Defence of Experts’ Counsel August 1012 and TEDR (The Experts and Dispute Resolver) (2012) Vol 17 no 2, 24:
A miscarriage of Justice corrected: the difference Expert Evidence can make to outcome ‘(Nov 2012 FAM Law 1344;
‘Re-litigation in Family Cases: the emerging law and practice’ Jan 2012 Fam Law 40

On the 3rd December Jo will be presenting a talk on radicalisation of children alongside Prof Andrew Silke on the overlap between expert evidence and family court at the Executive Council of the British Academy of Forensic Science (BAF) conference


Professional Memberships

Inquest Association of Lawyers for Children
Association of Women Barristers
Family Law Bar Association
The Middle Temple Women’s Forum (steering committee) 2011 – present
Centre for Child and Family Reform (CCFLR) committee 2012–present
Patron of AMEND (The Association for Multiple Endocrine Disorders)
FLBA National committee member 2010 – 13
FLBA chair of Fees sub committee 2012 – 13


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, radicalism and abuse. She has particular expertise in matters concerning a large amount of complex expert evidence following investigation.
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
Band 1

‘She displays razor-sharp analysis and a clear sense of direction.’
Legal 500, 2017
Top Tier

Highly sought-after specialist children silk entrusted with the most significant and demanding national cases. She has particular expertise in matters concerning a large amount of complex expert evidence following investigation.
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
Top Tier

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
Band 1

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
Band 1

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
Band 1

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
Band 1

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.

[2013] EWCA Civ 43
[2013] EWHC B22 (Fam)
[2012] EWCA Civ 1477
[2012] EWCA Civ 1477
[2012] EWCA Civ 165: [2012] 2 FLR 121 : [2012] Fam Law 511
[2012] 2 FLR 745; EWHC Case No. LS09C05566
[2011] EWHC 1267 (Fam): [2011] 2 FLR 1088 : [2011] Fam Law 933 : (2011) 108(26) LSG 18
[2011] 1 FLR 1045 : [2010] Fam Law 800
[2009] EWHC 2115 (Fam); (2010) 1 FLR 1560
(2008) 2 FLR 1389; [2008] EWHC 1484 (Fam)
[2008] UKHL 35; (2008) 3 WLR 1 : (2008) 4 All ER 1 : (2008) 2 FLR 141 : (2009) 1 AC 11 : Times, June 12, 2008