Book review – Law Society Children Law Handbook by Safda Mahmood

Book review – Law Society Children Law Handbook by Safda Mahmood

Children law in your hands

When is the last time you picked up a text book?  In this digital homeworking age, so much of our research and reading is now through a screen, but this first edition of the Children Law Handbook is worthy of space on your bookshelf.  It is an essential guide for any practitioner dealing with private and/or public children law issues.

The book is well-structured and easy to navigate with short sections and useful headings.  The depth of the author’s knowledge and experience is clear from his concise summaries, helpful commentary and technical flowcharts.  For example, a diagram sets out the options for enforcement of child arrangements orders, which are then explained in detail.

While useful as a reference book, to point you in the right direction with key case law, legislation and guidance, reading the book as a whole enables us to take a step back from our daily caseloads and reconsider matters from the child’s perspective.  There are helpful chapters on the concept of parenthood and developments in relation to the voice of the child, which compare and contrast private and public law approaches, for example, in relation to separate representation.

Alongside technical chapters, there are also practical guides on procedure and advocacy in children proceedings with tips on cross-examination techniques.

The book provides an overview of complex public law issues in care proceedings, adoptions and fostering. These sections are put into context with practical advice to local authorities, for example, in relation to children who have been relinquished for adoption by their parents. There are also interesting explanations of legal developments, such as how adoption law has evolved following The First World War.  The author is compassionate throughout, but ensures we are clearly focused on the child’s welfare within turbulent family environments and contested court proceedings.

I would encourage any private children lawyers to use this book to reframe their view of children law as a whole.  We are seeing more overlap between public and private law cases, and an increase in domestic abuse allegations in children proceedings means it is crucial to understand what local authority involvement means for your clients and their families.

Recent guidance, reports and proposed legislative changes are also flagged, particularly in relation to domestic abuse; and each topic includes a section explaining the impact of the pandemic on practice and procedure, which will give practitioners confidence as the family justice system continues to move forward.

This impressive book is highly recommended for all practising and aspiring children law practitioners.


Lauren Evans is a Senior Associate and Family Mediator at Kingsley Napley LLP

Today's Family Lawyer

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