Rachel Bennett

Call 2002 (Former Solicitor 2008) (Pupillage 2018)

*Neurodiversity specialist

*Disability and vulnerability expert

*Parental alienation and child abuse

*Public Access accredited

*Remote and in-person services

*Private Children Law (parents can’t agree the arrangements for their children)

*Public Children Law (local authority is concerned about children in their parents’ care)

*Family Law Act 1996 applications (domestic abuse)

*Extensive experience practising, researching, and teaching law over 20+ years

Rachel is an experienced family law Barrister with a particular expertise and interest in cases where neurodiversity and other “differences” are an issue for one or more of the people involved in the case.  Her niche practice in this area has built up because of her significant experience and skill over many years working with and supporting adults and children who are neurodiverse, as well as those with learning differences, mental or physical health challenges, needs, and communication difficulties.  She has an in-depth knowledge of the difficulties experienced by people with a range of neurodivergent profiles, the impact these difficulties can have on relationships and how they can often significantly contribute to people ending up needing to ask for help from lawyers and the courts in resolving family matters.   Rachel also has an in-depth knowledge of the many strengths which neurodiversity and other “differences” can bring and is skilled at enabling clients to use them to their own benefit.  She has a confident, calm, and reassuring manner with all clients, putting them at ease, whilst maintaining a robust and determined approach to advocating for them in court.  She adapts her approach to working with clients according to their individual profile and needs, and those of other family members involved in the dispute, to best meet her clients’ needs and provide the best possible service and outcome for them.

Rachel  has a varied family law practice encompassing all stages of private children law, public children law, applications under Part IV Family Law Act 1996 (domestic violence), and modest value financial remedy proceedings on divorce.  Most of her work is currently in private children work (applications for Child Arrangements Orders under the Children Act 1989).  Rachel also has a particular interest in cases involving allegations of parental alienation and other abuse. 

In private children law proceedings, Rachel represents parents, family members, intervenors and children (through their r16.4 children’s guardian) at all stages of applications under s8 Children Act 1989. This can include fact-finding hearings where allegations of serious abuse (physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, financial) towards children and parents have been made. She is sought after for her skill in dealing with cases involving intractable disputes and intense hostility.

In public law matters, Rachel has acted for children (through their children’s guardian), parents, family members, special guardians, intervenors and local authorities at various stages of care proceedings.  She has dealt with issues such as threshold, non-accidental injury, separation, neglect, special guardianship orders, sexual abuse, supervision and care orders, placement and adoption orders, foster care both within the family and in local authority placements, and education supervision orders.

Rachel is often thanked by lay clients for her attention to detail without losing sight of the “bigger picture”, and for making them feel listened to and understood.  She is popular with professional clients for her astute insights into complex cases, prompt updates, thoroughness, and detailed attendance notes.

Rachel is available to provide bespoke advice and advocacy services remotely as well as in person, meaning that she can take instructions regardless of a client’s geographical location.

Rachel is now also accredited to take instructions directly from members of the public as well as solicitors, under the Public Access Scheme.

Before Pupillage at Magdalen Chambers under Elizabeth Willsteed (now HHJ Willsteed), Rachel had many years’ experience as a solicitor and paralegal.  In addition, Rachel worked as a freelance legal researcher, and was commissioned by a former prison governor and adviser to the secretary of state for justice to produce research on extremism in prisons and the rehabilitation of radicalised offenders.  Rachel was also a university lecturer in law (Exeter) where she taught and examined in the Advocacy, Negotiation and Tort modules. She also ran Exeter University’s Community Legal Helpdesk at Exeter Family Court. Furthermore, Rachel was a Special Police Constable (latterly Inspector) for over 10 years, receiving several awards for exceptional service.

In her spare time, Rachel enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, sea swimming, singing professionally both in the UK and internationally, teaching singing, and choral conducting.

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