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Charlotte is an award-winning barrister with an extensive family law practice in complex trials and appellate cases, often encompassing ground-breaking fields of law. Ranked as Legal 500’s Leading Junior, Charlotte acts in high value matrimonial finance cases, private law children, child abduction, surrogacy and serious care cases. She has represented and advised high-profile public and political figures. Charlotte has been shortlisted for a number of awards, Family Law Junior Barrister of the Year, Rising Star and Woman Lawyer of the Year 2020.
As a Junior Research Fellow at Queens’ College, Cambridge, Charlotte researches and lectures on gender inequality under the law and female genital mutilation (“FGM”). Charlotte’s book about the efficacy of anti-FGM laws is soon to be published by Oxford University Press. Charlotte was awarded her Doctorate in FGM law and policy from King’s College, Cambridge and she was a Visiting Researcher at Berkeley Law School and Harvard Law School.
As an advocate for change, Charlotte was instrumental in drafting amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill, introducing FGM Protection Orders and criminalising forced marriage. She is a legal advisor to Our Streets Now, a campaign to criminalise sexual harassment and Girls Not Brides UK which aims to criminalise child marriage.
Charlotte is ranked in the Legal 500 2022 edition – Children Law, tier 5.
‘Has built up an excellent practice in family law well beyond her year of call. She is a leading thinker and expert on gender based violence and family law’, Leading Junior Barrister, Legal 500
“Charlotte is never shy of helping us test the boundaries of the law, or of tackling a relatively new form of domestic abuse, widespread image-based abuse (revenge porn), or raising novel arguments arising under the Equality Act, which have yet to be tested in court. Too many shy away from the untrodden or difficult path, Charlotte is not one of these”. Georgina Calvert-Lee, Senior Counsel, McAllister and Olivarius.
“Charlotte is not afraid to bring novel challenges that look to have wider policy implications. She is passionate about making the legal system more accountable in its treatment of women and girls”. Mitchell Woolf, Solicitor, Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd.
“I instructed Charlotte in a complex child abduction case that was appealed to the Court of Appeal. Her advice and written representations were outstanding. Her dedication to vulnerable clients, particularly those who are victims of abuse, is exemplary”. Cris McCurley, Head of International Family Law, Ben Hoare Bell LLP.
“Charlotte always delivers! She is a breath of fresh air after some 25 years of working with the Bar. In the last 12 months she achieved some 7 results in ToLATA and financial proceedings where the results achieved exceeded the hoped for result of the client”. Karen Agnew-Griffith, solicitor, Woolley & Co Solicitors.
“Dr Proudman has always secured good outcomes and has been commended on her efforts by my clients. She is fully committed to each case, matching a thoroughly professional approach with sensitivity to the needs of the lay client”. Priti Gill, Legal Executive, Horne Engall & Freeman LLP.
“Charlotte picked up the reigns of a financial relief upon divorce case at very short notice and achieved a brilliant result, leaving the client ecstatically happy”. Nigel Fisher, solicitor, Taylor Rose TTKW.
“In my opinion, she is a leader in the field of FGM law whose research has made a significant contribution to scholarship in this area and has had an impact on case law and law reform in England and Wales”. Professor Felicity Gerry QC, Barrister.
“Charlotte has excellent knowledge in the area of female genital mutilation law. She demonstrates commitment to and passion for this area of work. I have been most impressed by her professionalism and swift response especially with pro bono cases that are often at very short notice. On behalf of the families that Charlotte has supported and is continuing to support, I would like to send her our sincere gratitude”. The National FGM Centre.
“Charlotte is meticulous in her preparation and case strategy, which vastly improves the chances of securing a desired outcome. She is also very good in establishing a strong rapport with her clients.” Direct access client, financial remedy and private law children case.
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Financial relief on divorce: Specialising in high value financial relief cases where assets are in excess of several millions with complex structures. Charlotte has a wealth of experience in matrimonial finances applications, variation of maintenance claims, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 applications, property claims between unmarried partners and intervener claims and Court of Protection cases in which property and finances are disputed. She is an expert in Islamic marriage, divorce and dowry payments including nullity applications.
FGM: As ‘the expert’ in FGM, Charlotte has been instructed in six reported, precedent-setting FGMPO cases involving risk of FGM, travel bans and failed FGM asylum claims. Charlotte was junior counsel in Re A (A Child: Female Genital Mutilation: Asylum  EWHC 2475 before the President of the Family Division and later the Court of Appeal in which the President of the Family Division gave guidance about the interrelationship between FGMPOs and FGM asylum. The high-profile case was featured in The Guardian, The BBC and Sky News. She was junior counsel in the leading case of Re X (Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order No.2)  EWHC 1990 (Fam) in which the High Court issued guidance about the macro and micro considerations for a travel restrictions in FGM cases. Charlotte was instrumental in the introduction of FGM Protection Orders and the pilot Practice Direction 36H. Charlotte is a Gender-based Violence expert for the European Institute for Gender Equality and she was invited by the UN to advise on a UN Human Rights Council Resolution about FGM. Charlotte is currently collaborating with the End FGM European Network to encourage EU nation states to adopt FGMPOs to prevent FGM.
Private law children and domestic abuse: Charlotte specialises in complex cases regarding domestic abuse and parental alienation. Charlotte has single-handedly successfully appealed cases where the family courts have failed to have regard to allegations of domestic abuse and ordered contact between a parent and child contrary to PD12J. She is working on a number of Human Rights Act claims that directly challenge the family court’s approach in failing to have regard to the impact of domestic abuse on victims and children leaving them at risk of harm. She has appeared on the BBC and published in the Independent about the family court’s failure to address domestic abuse. Charlotte was co-author of an open letter signed by over 130 leaders calling for major changes to the family court’s approach in domestic abuse cases, which resulted in the government adopting a number of our recommendations. Charlotte is working closely with MPs and women’s rights organisations to draft pioneering amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill to protect victims and children from domestic abuse.
Public law children cases: Known for her advocacy in cases involving serious allegations of non-accidental injury, sexual abuse and emotional harm, she is regularly instructed in care cases. She acts in cases involving a re-opening of findings of fact; child sexual exploitation and trafficking; and challenges to Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 where children have been unlawfully accommodated by the local authority resulting in successful claims for damages.
Child abduction: Charlotte specialises in child abduction particularly cases involving an Article 13(b) defence due to a risk of domestic abuse and in cases where there are complex immigration issues. She has appealed such cases to the Court of Appeal. Charlotte was instructed in S v S  EWHC 1298 (Fam) which concerned the risk of domestic abuse in Iran and in Re Rodwell  EWHC 1731 (Fam) where habitual residence was in dispute.
Surrogacy: Charlotte is renowned for her experience in surrogacy and adoption. She acted in C (A Child: Parental Order & Child Arrangements Order)  EWHC 2474 in which a child had resulted from a surrogacy arrangement and the wife had then arranged a further surrogacy without the husband’s knowledge, and they had subsequently separated.
Court of Protection cases: Charlotte has experience in Court of Protection cases involving the welfare and management of property and affairs of persons lacking capacity. She is sensitive to the needs of vulnerable persons and can provide a thoughtful and empathetic approach.
Selected Training and Conferences
M (A Child : Private Law Children Proceedings: Case Management: Intimate Images)  EWHC 986 (Fam) (29 April 2022)
Dr Proudman represented the mother in a case concerning the admission of sexual images and videos and participation directions for vulnerable witnesses. The mother alleged rape, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. The father sought to rely on sexual footage to show that the parties had consensual sex and the mother was not raped. The mother opposed the admission of such material and argued that it re-traumatised her. For the first time, the Court handed down guidance on the admissibility of intimate material in domestic abuse cases. PD12J is silent on the admission of such material. Following a psychological assessment of the mother, the Court set out thorough participation directions for the mother to ensure she could give her best evidence. The case came before the Court for a preliminary issue hearing after the mother’s appeal of the first fact-finding judgment was allowed.
Traharne v Limb  EWFC 27
Dr Proudman represented the wife at a final hearing for financial remedies on divorce. The wife made an application for the post-nuptial agreement to be set aside due to coercive and controlling behaviour.
B v P  EWFC B18
Dr Proudman represented the mother in an application to appeal the fact-finding judgment, which was allowed. The appellate Court held that the trial Judge minimised domestic abuse and failed to apply the law concerning domestic abuse.
Griffiths v Griffiths (Decision on Recusal)  EWHC 3600 (Fam)
Dr Proudman was successful on behalf of Kate Griffiths MP in opposing the father’s application that Mrs Justice Arbthunot recuse herself. The law in respect of recusal and bias is set out within the considered judgment.
Griffiths v Griffiths (Guidance on Contact Costs)  EWHC 113 (Fam)
On behalf of Kate Griffiths MP, Dr Proudman successfully appealed an interim decision made by the family court. The court set aside an interim decision for direct contact between the child and the rapist father on the basis that PD12J was not complied with amongst other matters. In addition, the court set aside an order that a rape victim financially contribute towards a rapist’s contact costs. As submitted by Dr Proudman, the court introduced a strong presumption against a victim ever paying a perpetrator’s costs of contact. This will assist other victims in the future.
Re B-B (Domestic Abuse: Fact-Finding) (Rev1)  EWHC 108 (Fam)
The mother’s case formed one of the four linked appeals in the Court of Appeal, Re H-N and Others (children) (domestic abuse: finding of fact hearings)  EWCA Civ 448, which was successful on appeal. A consent order made by HHJ Scarratt in August 2019 was set aside after he threatened to have the child adopted if the mother continued with her allegations of rape and domestic abuse. The matter came before Mr Justice Cobb for a re-hearing at a five day fact-finding hearing. The mother proved her allegations of domestic abuse on the balance of probabilities this included that the father raped and sexually abused her, was verbally abusive and controlled her. The mother had the benefit of giving her evidence with participatory directions in place.
Re A (Jurisdiction: Family Law Act 1986) (Application for Amplification)  EWFC 105
Dr Proudman was successful on behalf of a mother in opposing the father’s application to initiate private law children proceedings in England and Wales. The parents and the children lived abroad in countries that are not signatories to the 1996 Hague Convention. The case concerned complex questions in respect of the interpretation of s.2(1)(b)(i), ss.2A(1)(a)(ii) and 42(2) the Family Law Act 1986. Dr Proudman’s interpretation was favoured by the High Court.
GK v PR  EWFC 106
Dr Proudman was successful on appeal on behalf of a mother in overturning a fact-finding decision in which no findings were made on the mother’s allegations of rape, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. The appellate court held that the trial judge minimised the significance of the allegations of abuse, for example, allegations that the father called the mother dirty, fat, fucking stupid, fucking die… were regarded by the judge as stuff of many a “matrimonial row” (§40). The appellate court also highlighted that the family court does not need to find “intentional misconduct” for a finding of abusive behaviour to be made (§40). The appellate court also held that there is a duty on the court to ensure that there are special measures in place to assist a vulnerable witness to give her best evidence. In this case, a complainant of rape did not have special measures and she could see the father when giving evidence; she was subsequently admitted to hospital because she struggled to breathe; and she attended the remote hearing the following day from her hospital bed.
Griffiths v Tickle  EWCA Civ 1882
Dr Proudman was successful on behalf of Kate Griffiths MP in winning the right to have the fact-finding judgment in proceedings under the Children Act 1989 published with the names of the father and the mother including only modest redactions. The father’s appeal against publication was dismissed.
Tickle v Griffiths  EWHC 3365 (Fam)
Two journalists made an application to publish the fact-finding judgment of HHJ Williscroft with the parent’s names. This application was supported by Kate Griffiths MP who was represented by Dr Proudman. The application was opposed by the father. The court found in favour of publication. The court highlighted the importance of a victim of rape, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour having the right to self-identification and self-determination and that the family court should not be used by perpetrators as another means of continuing control over a victim.
Griffiths v Griffiths  DEI900318
Dr Proudman represented Kate Griffiths MP at a fact-finding hearing before HHJ Williscroft in the Family Court at Derby. The family court found in the mother’s favour, finding rape, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour and abuse towards the child.
M (A Child)  EWHC 3225 (Fam)
Dr Proudman successfully represented the mother at an appeal in the High Court. The mother alleged rape, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour (“CCB”) by the father. At the fact-finding hearing, no findings were made on the mother’s allegations and the Judge found that the mother had fabricated one incident of anal rape. The mother applied for permission to appeal out of time, which was granted. The appeal was allowed on two grounds: 1. There were no special measures for the mother who was a vulnerable party; and 2. The judge failed to balance all of the evidence together. This is an important case because it addresses: a) the duty on courts to ensure that vulnerable witnesses have special measures; b) the mother’s vulnerabilities which the trial Judge failed to take account of; c) if a complainant wishes to remain in a relationship (perhaps because of her vulnerabilities) that does not mean that the relationship is not abusive; and d) the judgment also touches on whether it is relevant for a party to submit videos of sexual intercourse to refute allegations of rape on a different occasion. This gives rise to the so-called ’sexual history’ defence. This is the first judgment that touches on the relevance of sexual history in family proceedings.
SS v MCP (No. 2)  EWHC 2898 (Fam)
Dr Proudman successfully represented the mother following the court’s refusal to grant the Father’s application to invoke Parens Patriae and order the return of the child from India to England. The case set out the leading principles regarding when Parens Patriae can be invoked by the family courts.
C-603/20 PPU – MCP
Following Mr Justice Mostyn’s application for an urgent preliminary ruling from the CJEU in the case of SS v MCP  EWHC 2971 (Fam), Anthony Metzer QC and Dr Charlotte Proudman successfully represented the Mother at a hearing before the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). The CJEU concluded that Article 10 of Brussels IIa applied to member states and not to third states, such as India.
SS v MCP  EWHC 2971 (Fam)
Dr Charlotte Proudman represented the Mother in a child abduction case in which the Father had applied for the immediate return of the child from India to the UK. The Mother opposed the Father’s application. The court found that the child is habitually resident in India having spent around two years there. However, the court held that the legal position in respect of whether the court retains jurisdiction to make orders in respect of the child was unclear due to the ambiguity of the territorial reach of article 10 of Brussels 2. As such, the court referred the case to the Court of Justice for an urgent preliminary ruling.
The Secretary of State for Justice v A Local Authority & Ors (Rev1)  EWCA Civ 1527
Dr Proudman was instructed by Centre for Women’s Justice on behalf of the interveners in an appeal brought by the Secretary State of Justice. The Court of Appeal held that care workers could commit a criminal offence if they were to make the practical arrangements for C to visit a prostitute. C was unable to make the arrangements for himself because of mental incapacity. The CWJ submitted evidence on behalf of two women’s charities showing the harm that is caused to girls and women in prostitution. It was submitted that it is impossible to be satisfied that a woman has not been subject to exploitative conditions which could result in criminal liability. Our submissions were relied on by the Court of Appeal.
A (Domestic abuse: incorrect principles applied)  EWFC B30
Dr Proudman successfully represented the Mother on appeal. The Appellate court overturned the decision of DDJ Watson following a flawed fact-finding hearing. The learned Judge fell into error because he (a) failed to address and follow the provisions of Practice Direction PD12J; (b) failed to identify and apply the correct definition of domestic abuse; (c) failed to identify that a child who sees or hears, or experiences the effects of abuse between parents is a victim of domestic abuse; (d) minimised the father’s alleged conduct as ‘inappropriate parenting’; (e) reducing the gravity of abuse because it took place in a ‘domestic setting’; (f) applied criminal principles to family law proceedings; (g) incorrectly considered violence to be a more serious form of abuse than coercive and controlling behaviour; (h) referred to an alleged domestic abuse incident as “highly situational”; (i) the judge’s demeaning comments about domestic abuse were “wholly inappropriate and not what one may expect a judge of the Family Court to condone”; (j) the Judge failed to consider that the Mother was a vulnerable witness and implement special measures; the Mother cried during the cross-examination of her; there was no screen; there was no ground rules hearing; (k) the Mother was restricted in the presentation of her allegations of abuse preventing her from making out her case. This case has been remitted for a re-trial before a different judge.
Re H-N and Others (Children) (Domestic Abuse: Finding of fact hearings)  EWCA Civ 448
Dr Charlotte Proudman represented two of the four appellant mothers at the substantive appeal hearing. The Court of Appeal handed down general guidance on the family court’s approach to allegations of rape, domestic abuse, and coercive and controlling behaviour. Dr Proudman had successfully applied for permission to appeal, out of time, in three of the four linked appeals, Re B-B, Re H and Re T. Dr Proudman was successful in overturning a consent order in the case of Re B-B in which the mother was coerced to accede to.
Re E, S and Y (Children: Care and Placement Orders)  EWFC B2 (02 February 2021)
Dr Proudman represented a mother opposing a care order and placement order in respect of her three children. The local authority alleged domestic abuse between the mother and her former partners causing the children harm. Findings were made in respect of domestic abuse. The court also found that one of the fathers physically assaulted a child, which constituted non-accidental injury. The court made a number of serious findings relating to domestic abuse and neglect in the family home. The court made a care order and a placement order in respect of the three children. The decision shows the serious orders that can be made by the family courts in domestic abuse cases to ensure that children are not harmed in the family household.
CD v Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council (adoption set aside) (Rev 1)  EWHC 3411
Dr Charlotte Proudman represented children’s relatives whom applied for care, placement and adoption orders to be revoked. Applying for care, placement and adoption orders to be revoked is a very high test to meet. Dr Proudman was instructed on behalf of the children’s family members to make this application on the basis that they had not been thorough assessed by the local authority prior to the final orders being made.
C (A Child: Parental Order & Child Arrangements Order)  EWHC 2474 (Fam)
C (A Child: Parental Order & Child Arrangements Order)  EWHC 2141 (Fam)
Dr Proudman represented the local authority following an application on behalf of the husband and wife for a parental order. A child had resulted from a surrogacy arrangement and the wife had then arranged a further surrogacy without the husband’s knowledge or consent.
AB v AN & Anor  EWHC 2048 (Fam)
Dr Charlotte Proudman represented the mother in application for an FGMPO on behalf of her daughter at risk of FGM in Nigeria. The family do not have secure immigration status. The mother applied for expert assessments and the appointment of a children’s guardian.
Re A (A Child) (Rev 1)  EWCA Civ 731.
Karon Monaghan QC and Dr Proudman represented the mother before the Court of Appeal in an FGMPO case. The court upheld the decision of the President namely that the family court has a duty to form its own assessment of risk of FGM unencumbered by the outcome of a materially different process in the immigration jurisdiction.
Re A (A child) (Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order Application) (Rev 1)  EWHC 323
Dr Proudman represented the mother at a final hearing in an FGMPO case in which the court found that the girl would be at a high risk of FGM if she is returned to Bahrain or Sudan.
Karon Monaghan QC and Dr Proudman represented the mother in an application for a FGMPO on behalf of her daughter before the President of the Family Division. The President ordered that the family court cannot prohibit the Home Secretary from removing a girl at high risk of FGM from this jurisdiction. The family court must conduct its own risk assessment of FGM even when the immigration tribunal has conducted an earlier risk assessment.
Nkumbe Ekaney QC and Dr Proudman represented the mother in an application for a FGMPO on behalf of her daughter. The local authority applied for a travel ban to prohibit a girl from leaving the jurisdiction to visit her father in Egypt due to a risk of FGM. After various expert reports, the court allowed the child to visit the father in Egypt for a short trip. The court gave guidance on both the macro and the micro factors that must be taken into account when deciding whether a travel ban ought to be imposed in a case where FGM is a risk.
Dr Proudman was successful in appealing a child arrangements order where provisions for child contact were set out in recitals rather than in the body of a court order.
BA & Anor v JA & Ors (female genital mutilation protection orders and immigration appeals)  EWHC 1754 (Fam)
Dr Proudman represented the parents of a child at risk of FGM abroad. The court gave guidance that an application for an FGMPO should only be made when the family’s immigration appeal rights have been exhausted.
B v M  EWHC 1473 (Fam)
Dr Proudman was instructed in a public law children fact-finding hearing in which they represented private foster carers who had fostered a child for several years. The judge found that the parents abandoned the child and the local authority breached its duties under the private fostering regulations. The judgment provided important guidance on the duties under private fostering arrangements.
AAM v KG  EWHC 283 (Fam)
Dr Proudman represented the appellant who appealed the trial judge’s order of nullity on the ground of polygamy. The case involved issues of validity of marriages overseas, the necessity of documentary evidence proving the existence of a marriage and the relevance of expert evidence.
Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Appellant) v Ryan and another (Respondents) (Trinidad and Tobago)  UKPC 30.
Dr Proudman was led by Jonathan Crystal and Romie Tager QC in an appeal upheld by the Privy Council to set aside the Court of Appeal’s decision to reverse the trial judge’s findings concerning the escape of hydrocarbon fumes from an oil well causing medical injuries.
Rodwell  EWHC 1731 (Fam)
Dr Proudman represented the father who sought the return of his children to Spain but the children’s whereabouts were unknown and they were unlikely to be habitually resident in England and Wales thus the court had no jurisdiction and the application was dismissed.
Charlotte is experienced in judicial review cases that overlap with family law including asylum claims, unaccompanied minors, Article 8 ECHR and domestic violence ILR route. With extensive experience in violence against women and girls internationally, Charlotte specialises in cases involving FGM, honour-based violence, trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and religious conversion.
Charlotte is often successful in such cases including: an 18-year-old girl at risk of FGM in Sierra Leone; Tamil family at risk of violence in Sri Lanka; woman trafficked from Albania to England and sexually exploited; Nigerian woman beaten by her husband and successfully applied for ILR on the basis of domestic violence; and an Iranian woman who converted to Christianity.
Human rights claims: Charlotte is adept at raising novel legal challenges that have the potential to be ground-breaking. Charlotte is an expert in Judicial Review, Equality Act claims and Human Rights Act claims in civil, family and immigration cases. She is instructed in claims against local authorities for failing to comply with their duties to children, sexual harassment cases on university campuses and so-called revenge porn cases.
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