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Katherine Duncan

  • Call: 2014


Katherine is a barrister specialising in family law. She has a busy practice in private and public children matters, international family law and financial proceedings.

When representing clients in child arrangement hearings, she is adept at finding creative solutions to child arrangements in the context of complex emotional relationships. Sometimes it may be more appropriate to issue a specific issue order in relation to medical treatment, passports and education. Katherine will advise her clients on such applications.

Katherine has a particular interest in cases where there have been allegations of domestic violence after spending time practising in the criminal courts. It is important that the courts deal with the issue of domestic violence early in proceedings and is familiar with the practice direction on such issues. She is adept at the cross-examination of the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim in such cases. She regularly acts in applications for non-molestation orders and occupation orders.

Katherine acts in care proceedings. She has represented clients in cases where there have been allegations of non-accidental injury, domestic violence, neglect, sexual abuse, and alcohol and drug abuse. She regularly works with clients with learning difficulties and works hard to make sure they are able to fully engage in the proceedings. Katherine is confident at handling contested interim care orders (ICOs) and contested threshold cases through to final hearing. She understands how stressful and daunting it can be when the Local Authority are involved in family life and works hard to make sure the parents are given every opportunity available.

Katherine advises clients on divorce and represents clients in contested financial remedy proceedings with a wide variety of assets. She also has experience of advising clients in relations to Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLTA) matters and schedule 1 claims.

In international proceedings, Katherine represents clients in cases concerning child abduction, child relocation and access rights under the Hague Convention 1996.  She has acted on behalf of the police when they have sought to obtain forced marriage protection orders.

Katherine takes a keen interest in forced marriage and FGM cases and provides seminars on such subjects. She is also interested in surrogacy law. Katherine has represented a surrogate mother in a case stayed before the court pending a change in the law concerning single applicants.


  • International Legal and Professional Development Grant
  • Ede and Ravenscroft Prize 2014
  • Major Scholarship from Inner Temple for BPTC 2013
  • Major Scholarship from Inner Temple for GDL 2012
  • Merit Scholarship from University of Aberdeen 2008-2012

Cases of note

M v F & SM (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008) [2017] EWHC 2176 (Fam) (23 August 2017)

Katherine Duncan, instructed by Mills and Reeve, acted for the second respondent in the application for a parental order in relation to a child born as a result of a gestational surrogacy arrangement between the applicant and her former partner, where the child was born to a surrogate mother. Wardship continued until the law changes to permit applications for parental orders by a single applicant.

Re D
Represented a mother in care proceedings. After successful cross examination of the social worker, the social worker conceded that the children should not have been removed and should be returned to the parents as the allegations of non-accidental injury had very likely been fabricated by one of the children. Children returned the next day with a Family Assistance Order.

Re H
Represented a mother with severe cognitive difficulties in care proceedings with application for a placement order for adoption. Ensured she was able to engage with the proceedings as much as possible.

Re K
Represented mother in the High Court after a location order was issued and the child was made a ward of the court and passport orders were imposed. Agreed a solution with father to bring the younger child, who was not a British citizen, back from India to the UK. Child arrangements orders were subsequently made.

Re E (forced marriage protection order)
Successfully represented the Metropolitan Police to achieve a forced marriage protection order and passport order against a father seeking to take his teenage daughter abroad to have her raped and married.

H v H
Provided advice on obtaining a divorce. The parties were married under Islamic Law and the wife wanted to ensure the return of her dowry. The wife was in the UK and wished to divorce her husband, who was living in their house in the EU, before he fled.