Alex specialises in children and finance law, particularly cases with an international element.
He is the most junior member of the Family Bar to be ranked in Chambers and Partners 2020, where he is described as “Very clever and persuasive” and as having “…a conspicuously excellent legal brain far beyond his years of call.”
Alex was the top barrister of his Call to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn across all areas of law. His work in complex areas was reported by Sir James Munby P as “very impressive” ( EWCA Civ 1112) and “illuminating” ( EWHC 2271 (Fam)). He has the unique distinction of being the Outstanding Newcomer in the Field of Children Law: ALC (2017) and the Family Law Awards: Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year (2017). He is the only member of the Family Bar twice to have won the Family Law Awards: Young Barrister of the Year (2018 and 2016). And, in 2019, Alex is instructed in both the leading finance (Villiers v Villiers UKSC 2018/0114) and the leading children (In the matter of NY (A Child) (AP) UKSC 2019/0145) case in the UK Supreme Court.
Alex is co-author of three leading books on family law: Laing and Jackson: Public Children Law: Contemporary Issues (1st edn., 2018); Child Protection and the Family Court: What You Need to Know (3rd edn., 2019); and Family Law Precedents Service (46th edn., 2020).
Alex studied history and modern languages at Trinity College Dublin for which he was awarded a First, an honorary distinction and the Gold Medal for receiving a First in each and every paper, essay and dissertation (famous recipients include Samuel Beckett, Nobel laureate). As part of that, Alex spent a year at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain; subsequently, he completed a masters-level programme at the Universidad para la Paz in Costa Rica (distinction: 1st in year).
Alex completed the GDL (distinction) and the BPTC (outstanding) at the City Law School, London, where he won the Everard Van Heyden prize.
Before coming to the Bar, Alex worked for the United Nations in El Salvador. At that time, El Salvador suffered from the highest murder rate of any country not in open war. His primary tasks were to help investigate corruption in the justice system and introduce electoral reform; he also worked with charities assisting ex “maras” (or gang members) to reintegrate into society.
Alex speaks and writes fluent Spanish. He holds a DELE Diploma C2 (equivalent to doctorate level: certifies “mastery”).
Children: public, private and international
Alex appears in complex public, private and international children law cases. In addition to his daily practice of public and private children law, he has a particular interest in international child abduction, deprivation of liberty and the interaction of domestic children law and the Human Rights Act 1998.
Alex has appeared in a significant number of reported and appellate cases in this field: see cases. That includes leading cases on: secure accommodation / deprivation of liberty (T (A Child)  EWCA Civ 2136); international artificial insemination (J v K  EWFC 32); section 20 accommodation (Williams  UKSC 37); county-line drug running and wardship (A Local Authority  EWHC 1121 (Fam)); and, frequently, international child abduction (Re NY (A Child) (1980 Hague Abduction Convention) (Inherent Jurisdiction)  EWCA Civ 1065, TY v HY  EWHC 1310 (Fam), Letts v Letts  EWHC 1639 (Fam), AB v CD  EWHC 1021 (Fam), J (A Child)  EWCA Civ 80).
Alex is secretary to and primary author of the reports of the President’s public children law working group, chaired by Keehan J. That includes the current report on the future of the family justice system.
Alex practises in finance cases, particularly those with an international element. That includes TLATA and schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989. He has been instructed in numerous finance appeals and has a particular interest in the interaction of domestic and EU law.
Alex has appeared in leading appellate cases in this field: see cases. That includes the leading case on the application of the EU Maintenance Regulation in intra-UK divorces / section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973: Villiers v Villiers  EWCA Civ 1120. That has been reported as a “case to watch” and will be head by the UK Supreme Court in December 2019. Also, the leading case on the application of Brussels I to domestic TLATA law, there in the context of a tri-jurisdictional TLATA appeal: Magiera v Magiera  EWCA Civ 1292.
Alex’s finance work has been reported in The Times, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Express, and featured heavily in the Scottish press. In addition, Alex is published widely on issues in finance law, including for Family Law (journal), Family Law Week and The Review (Resolution).
Called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn (top barrister)
The City Law School, BPTC (Outstanding)
Universidad para la Paz, Costa Rica, M.A.-level certificate, Transitions to Democracy (Distinction)
The City Law School, GDL (Distinction)
Trinity College Dublin, B.A. (Mod.) European Studies (Gold Medal; First Class Honours, with Distinction)
Family Law Bar Association
The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
Affiliate Member of Resolution
Child Protection and the Family Court: What You Need to Know (3rd edn., 2019), with Sir Andrew McFarlane P and Madeleine Reardon.
Laing and Jackson: Public Children Law: Contemporary Issues (1st edn., 2018), with Dr Bianca Jackson.
No Exceptions to the Ongoing Involvement of the Judge Who Hears the FDR, Lexis PSL online, 9 August 2019
Outta Time, But Not Outta Luck (co-author, Greg Williams), The Review, July 2019
Family: Update, Legal Action (December 2018 / January 2019)
A Short Note on Habitual Residence: AB v CD  EWHC 1021 (Fam), Family Law Week, 22 May 2018 (read https://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed190031)
Daedalus, Ariadne and the Minotaur: Where are we now? Family Law Week, 15 May 2018 (read https://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed189940)
Villiers v Villiers: The Hammer of the Scots?: Part I (co-author, Michael Horton) The Review, May 2018
Why pro bono?  Fam Law 361
Villiers v Villiers: An Update (co-author, Michael Horton) Family Law Week, 22 March 2018 (read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed188904)
I Can’t Get No (Just) Satisfaction: Human Rights Act Claims in Family Law (co-author, Rachel Cooper), The Review, December 2017
Guidance on the Use of Professional Time to Benefit Children, The Review, September 2017
Children Giving Evidence in Family Proceedings: A Pocket Guide to the Law, Bloomsbury Law Online, 26 October 2016 (read http://www.bloomsburylawonline.com/children-giving-evidence-in-family-proceedings/)
Secure, Secure, Secure, Absconding, Bloomsbury Law Online, 5 October 2016 (read http://www.bloomsburylawonline.com/secure-secure-secure-absconding/)
Children Case Update: Public law: Part 3: Special guardianship orders; female genital mutilation protection orders; BIIa and other international care cases; inherent jurisdiction and wardship; decisions of the Supreme Court  Fam Law 643
Children Case Update: Public law: Part 2: Fact finding; medical treatment; adoption and placement orders  Fam Law 931
Children Case Update: Public law: Part 1: Care Proceedings,  Fam Law 643
And There Lurks the Minotaur: The Interrelationship Between the Inherent Jurisdiction and Section 25, CA 1989: Part II, Family Law Week, 8 July 2016 (read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed161670)
And There Lurks the Minotaur: The Interrelationship Between the Inherent Jurisdiction and Section 25, CA 1989: Part I, Family Law Week, 22 June 2016 (read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed161398)
A Very Legal Playground: In the Matter of B (A Child) and the Habitual Residence Seesaw, Family Law (online), 22 February 2016
Saleem, Shivering and English Winters: Jurisdiction under Article 11 of the 1996 Hague Convention and is published on Family Law (online), 4 January 2015. (read here)
‘Calderback to the Future: A Debate on the Motion: This House Believes the Calderbank Regime Should be Restored in Family Cases’  Fam Law 1537
‘”… this can no longer be tolerated”: a short guide to the correct use of section 20, Children Act 1989’ Family Law Week, 11 November 2015 (read here)
‘Limping Infants and Article 15 BIIA: the “magisterial” judgment in In the Matter of N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction)’, Family Law Week, 10 November 2015 (read here)
‘Magna Carta 800 Years On: Faded Lustre and Family Law.’ Family Law (online), 17 July 2015 (read here)
Genes or Jeans? The Importance of the Genetic Relationship when Evaluating a Child’s Best Interests, Family Law (online), 3 June 2015 (read here)
Adopting Foreign Children: Part II: A Counter-Argument; Choice of Laws  Fam Law 703
Adopting Foreign Children: Part I: Jurisdiction  Fam Law 565 (read here)
Re J: A Lesson on Threshold and Logic, Family Law Week, 23 April 2015 (read here)
Daedalus’s Twist? Secure Accommodation after a Child’s 16th Birthday, Family Law Week, 9 April 2015 (read here)
Ariadne’s Golden Thread: Placing Children in Secure Accommodation, Family Law Week, 9 April 2015 (read here)
Podcast and Case Summaries
Secure Accommodation Orders and Deprivation of Liberty of Children and Young Persons, 29 July 2017 (listen http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed178924)
Alex writes weekly case summaries for Family Law Week. These are available to read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=se0&s=Laing
In the matter of NY (A Child)  UKSC 49
Re NY (A Child) (1980 Hague Abduction Convention) (Inherent Jurisdiction)  EWCA Civ 1065
TY and HY  EWHC 1310 (Fam)
T (A Child)  EWCA Civ 2136
X and Y (Appeal against Care Order)  EWFC B55
Williams and another v London Borough of Hackney  UKSC 37
Letts v Letts  EWHC 1639 (Fam)
Villiers v Villiers  EWCA Civ 1120
A Local Authority v A’s Father, Mr F & Ors  EWHC 1121 (Fam)
AB v CD  EWHC 1021 (Fam)
A Local Authority v T (No. 2)  EWHC 816 (Fam)
A Local Authority v T (No. 1)  EWHC 576 (Fam)
F v H & Anor  EWHC 3358 (Fam)
A London Borough v M, F and B  EWFC B93
J (A Child) (Finland) (Habitual Residence)  EWCA Civ 80
Magiera v Magiera  EWCA Civ 1292
P (A Child)  EWCA Civ 1127