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Duncan Lewis Solicitors shortlisted at the 2021 Family Law Awards (6 September 2021)

Date: 06/09/2021
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Duncan Lewis Solicitors shortlisted at the 2021 Family Law Awards

We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for five awards at this year’s LexisNexis Family Law Awards: family and child care directors Emine Mehmet and Krina Parmar have been shortlisted for Partner of the Year, solicitors Emily Alice Reed and Henna Sajid are finalists for the Young Solicitor of the Year award, and solicitor Helen Newman has been shortlisted for the International Family Lawyer of the Year award.

Family and child care director Emine Mehmet handles a heavy caseload acting for children and guardians and is well-respected for her complex care work. She represents the most vulnerable through public law children proceedings, applications for injunctions, emergency orders preventing unlawful removals of children from the UK, and represents children in public and private law proceedings including Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) Order applications.

Emine has been involved in numerous reported cases, including that of Re T which was heard in the Supreme Court in October 2020. In this case Emine represents a transgender teenager (T) concerning her deprivation of liberty. A DoLS order had been made by the local authority in whose favour there was a care order. The Local Authority believed they had the power to restrict T, who had a history of absconding from secure accommodation, this was appealed primarily on the basis that she consented to the restrictions and so the DoLS order was not necessary.

This was the first time the Court of Appeal looked at the right of consent within Article 5 of the ECHR and Re T has given guidelines for DoLS. It has been cited in many publications and is considered to be the leading case. Emine obtained legal aid to appeal further and in late 2019 was granted by the UK Supreme Court permission to appeal. It was the most important children law case of 2020. Whilst the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, and held in particular that the use of the inherent jurisdiction to authorise the deprivation of liberty in cases like the present is permissible, it expressed grave concern about the use of the inherent jurisdiction use to fill a gap in the child care system caused by inadequate resources. Read the Supreme Court’s judgment here.

Director of family and child care Krina Parmar undertakes a range of both of private and public children work, the majority of her work consists of serious non-accidental injuries, some of which involve cases where sensitive incidents occur, such as matters where babies have died, sexual allegations have been made, and cases where clients have been victims of trafficking. Many of her cases are culturally complex with international elements and she handles a wide range of cross country work.

An example of one of her more intricate cases is her current representation of a father in an application by the local authority for a forced marriage protection order (FMPO) against his daughter and two family members. The father’s daughter is subject to the proceedings and although in her twenties, has the mental capacity of a ten-year-old. The daughter was taken to Bangladesh on a holiday by the Mother and whilst there was married to a cousin. The Father states that he was not aware of the marriage being arranged or taking place and he remained unaware of it until after it had taken place. The local authority state that the daughter never had the capacity to consent to marriage and therefore the marriage was void. There are parallel criminal proceedings running alongside the family proceedings as a breach of a FMPO is also a criminal offence.

Nominated for the Young Solicitor of the Year award Henna Sajid handles a wide range of cases including injunctions, child contact matters (both public and private) and divorce matters that progress into complex financial proceedings. Where possible, Henna always strives to conduct her own advocacy.

Henna has significant experience in assisting sensitive and vulnerable clients including those who have suffered domestic abuse and those subjected to forced marriage. In the last twelve months, Henna has worked on numerous complex cases that showcase her talents as an effective junior solicitor.

Fellow finalist Emily Alice Reed conducts public law cases including NAI, CSE, parental mental health and drug and alcohol use. She also conducts private law proceedings including abduction and domestic abuse cases. Emily has developed a specialism in forced marriage and FGM protection cases.

Following the opening of the firm’s Manchester office, she relocated to front the family department there, a clear indication of her expertise, judgement, and professional abilities.

Shortlisted for the International Family Lawyers of the Year, Helen Newman, has over 40 years’ experience and has firmly established herself as a leading authority on international child abduction cases having had a case heard in the Court of Justice of the European Union which is now embedded into English and European law. Naturally her expertise extends to other cross border/children law matters such as cases involving a plethora of children cases that have an international aspect.

She is one of the longest serving solicitors on the International Child Abduction Unit (ICACU) accredited solicitors’ referral list, and is a founding member of the Child Abduction Lawyers’ Association (CALA).

Helen also handles cases from other jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, the USA and – notably – the Czech Republic and Slovakia where her work has been formally recognised. In November 2019 Helen was invited to speak at a conference at the Institute of Education of the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic in Omšenie to mark the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The conference was organised by the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic, the Association of Friends of Children from Children´s Homes and the Judicial Academy of the Slovak Republic. At this event Helen – to her surprise – received an award from the Society of Friends of Abandoned Children and the Association of Family Judges in Slovakia for her "outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement for Children's Right not to be separated from their parents”. The award honours and highlights the work she does in this country for Slovak and Czech nationals concerning care cases and child abduction cases, and particularly notes her ”significant long-term assistance in advocating the rights of children in difficult life situations”.

We are incredibly proud of Emine, Krina, Henna, Emily and Helen on their shortlistings which are testimony to the hard work they have carried out in the last year and in particular during the recent challenging times.

This year’s awards will be taking place on the 24th November – we wish them all the best of luck.

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