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Gresham College: Prof. Jo Delahunty, Q.C. – Transparency in the Family Justice System: #6/6 – Transparency in the Family Court: What Does on Behind Closed Doors


About this series – Transparency in the Family Justice System

This second series continues the theme of ‘transparency’ with Professor Jo Delahunty QC exploring diversity, equality and fairness in the family justice system

About this lecture

Who does the story belong to: the family or society? Where and how are the lines drawn? Until relatively recently the Family Court door was closed to all save the parties and professionals involved in the case. A 2014 initiative aimed to secure ‘an immediate and significant change in practice’ to usher in greater understanding of the way in which the courts operate. The aim was to improve public awareness of the court process and to increase confidence in its actions. ‘Transparency’ was the watch word of the day. Has it worked?

Professor Jo Delahunty, Q.C.


Professor Jo Delahunty QC is one of the UK’s leading barristers specialising in cases concerned with families and children. She was appointed Gresham Professor of Law in the summer of 2016.

Professor Jo Delahunty QC is one of the UK’s leading barristers specialising in legal issues affecting families and children. Since being called to the Bar in 1986, Professor Delahunty has come to practice at the High Court level and above, rising to prominence for her work in cases concerning contentious medical evidence and the death of/catastrophic injuries to a child; ‘shaken baby’ allegations where genetic and benign cases can mimic physical abuse; inter-generational and inter-sibling sexual abuse; ritualized abuse; ISIS radicalisation risks and cases involving vulnerable adults and victims where learning disabilities and mental health difficulties prevail. She was appointed a QC in 2006, a Recorder in 2009 and made a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2011. She is identified as a Top Rank Silk by Chambers and Partners and is ranked as a Top Tier Silk by the Legal 500.

Alongside her practice in the Family Division, between 2013-16, Professor Delahunty was instructed on behalf of 77 bereaved families in the Hillsborough Inquest, tasked with exposing the failures of the emergency medical response by the South Yorkshire Ambulance service: on 26.4.16 the Jury found that their errors and omission caused or contributed to the loss of life in the disaster. For her work in this area, Professor Delahunty QC received the Group Recipient of LALY ‘Outstanding Achievement of the Year Award 2016’ and the Group Recipient Modern Law Award 2016 for ‘Outstanding Achievement’.

More recently, Professor Delahunty has become involved in advising organisations on risk review and the adequacy of their child protection procedures in light of The Goddard Inquiry into historic sex abuse.

Alongside her private practice Professor Delahunty sits as a Recorder hearing public and private law children cases and plays an active part in the committees of various legal associations, including the CCFLR (Centre for Child and Family Law Reform), the Women’s Forum (Middle and Inner Temple Inns of Court) alongside being Patron of the charity AMEND (Association of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Disorders). She is a member of 4Paper Buildings, Temple, London and has door tenancies at Park Lane Plowden in Leeds and St. Ives Chambers in Birmingham

Both through her professional and pro bono work, and in her numerous engagements as a speaker, Professor Delahunty is drawn towards sharing her knowledge by striving to make the law, its practice as well as its principles, accessible to the society it serves.  In her public speaking she is noted for challenging the audience’s preconceptions and pushing them into less comfortable areas of thought and reflection, speaking with passion and insight on what really happens inside and outside court, and the realities of representing confused, damaged clients when they are faced with the formality, language, remoteness and power of the legal process.

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