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Barrister

Charlotte is an award-winning barrister with an extensive practice in complex trials and appellate cases, often encompassing novel points of law. Ranked as Legal 500’s Leading Junior, Charlotte is described as:

 

‘Charlotte is taking the protection of vulnerable women and children in the Family Court to the next level by a unique combination of academic rigour and unashamedly activist passion. She has made more of a contribution to changing the landscape around the conversation on violence against women and girls than any other junior at the family Bar. She is intellectually first class, an incisive advocate and absolutely fearless in vindicating the rights of some of the most vulnerable in society.‘

Charlotte is an advocate for survivors and victims who have suffered male violence against women. She has represented and advised high-profile public and political figures. Charlotte has been shortlisted for ‘Case of the Year’ at the Family Law Awards 2022 for representing Kate Griffiths MP, a victim of rape, abuse and control in a landmark judgment which was published. 

 

Charlotte was awarded ‘Rising Star’ of the year by the Women in Law Awards 2020, she was named ‘Hot 100’ by the Lawyer 2021, and she was highly commended for ‘Junior Family Law Barrister of the Year’ and her case won ‘Case of the Year’ at the Family Law Awards 2021. Clear Path UK Awards shortlisted Charlotte for the 'Cycle Breaker Award' 2022 'for your work at Goldsmith Chambers advocating for survivors of abuse in court and challenging misconceptions across the sector'.

 

Some of Charlotte’s groundbreaking cases include:

  • Represented a victim of rape in one of the first cases that defined gaslighting as domestic abuse; 

  • Instrumental in defining coercive and controlling behaviour as domestic abuse and harmful to victims and children; 

  • Re-defining the definition of rape and consent in family law; 

 

  • Represented Kate Griffiths MP in a landmark judgment which introduced a presumption that a victim should never pay towards the costs of contact between a child and a perpetrator; 

  • Successfully appealed a number of cases where the family court failed to implement special measures for complainants of domestic abuse and failed to apply PD12J;

  • Successfully represented mothers accused of parental alienation;

  • Secured protection for victims of child marriage and FGM; and

  • Represented a complainant where the judge set out important guidance on disclosing intimate images or videos in rape and domestic abuse cases.

Recent notable cases
 

A Local Authority v M & Ors. [2022] EWHC 81
Dr Proudman represented a victim of child marriage, FGM and domestic abuse in a family court case where serious findings of abuse were made. The case concerned an extreme religious sect abroad. The family are seeking asylum in the UK. A special advocate was appointed in the case to assist the court following concerns about the disclosure of sensitive information to a party in the case.

 

Re B (Children: Police Investigation) [2022] EWCA Civ 982 (15 July 2022)
Anthony Metzer QC and Dr Charlotte Proudman represented the mother in an appeal brought by the Metropolitan Police Service. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, allowed the appeal from an injunction made by the High Court under its inherent jurisdiction. The court held that the injunction impermissibly interfered with an operational decision made by the MPS regarding the scope and manner of a criminal investigation to be conducted into the circumstances of the case.

 

M (A Child : Private Law Children Proceedings: Case Management: Intimate Images) [2022] 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 [2022] 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 [2022] 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) [2021] 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) [2022] 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) [2022] 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) [2021] 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) [2021] 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 [2021] 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 [2021] 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 [2021] 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 [2020] 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) [2021] 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) [2021] 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 [2020] 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 [2020] 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) [2021] 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) [2021] 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) [2021] 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.

 

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