John Hayes QC

Year of call 1992


Practice Summary

John was appointed as Queens Counsel in 2013.  He practises in Courts at all levels with an extensive High Court practice in public law children work.  He has over 23 years experience in this specialist field.

John is instructed on behalf of local authorities, parents, relatives and children's guardians in the most complex cases involving very serious allegations of harm and the death of children.

John is a popular and experienced practitioner who is recommended in successive editions of the Legal 500.

John provided a written Opinion at the request of Lord Lloyd of Berwick which was cited during a House of Lords Parliamentary debate on a proposed amendment to section 31 of the Children Act 1989.

Areas of Expertise

  • All aspects of public law children work.

  • Instructed in complex cases involving allegations of death, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and/or emotional abuse.

  • Specialist expertise in cases involving complex medical evidence.

Reported & Notable Cases

Re RA (Baby Relinquished for Adoption) [2016] EWFC 47                                      

Acted for prospective adopters in High Court adoption proceedings successfully opposing application by extended family in Latvia (and latterly birth parents) seeking return of child.

Re GD & BD & Others -v- Wakefield Council & Others [2016] EWHC 3312                                                 

Acted for a Mother in a Human Rights Act application involving very serious European Convention breaches by the LA and police. Case of exceptional complexity with wide ranging implications for those involved and future cases.

Re K [2016] EWHC 1606                                                                                        

Represented Father in alleged radicalisation case in High Court.

Re B (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 1053                                                                             

Acted for LA as respondent in Appeal hearing. Allegations of fabricated illness in child.  Mother seeking to overturn Court findings and making of Care and Placement Order.  Appeal successfully opposed.

Kirklees Council -v- X [2015] EWFC 68                                                                            

Acted for LA in case involving historical sexual abuse allegations Vulnerable witnesses called.  Allegations proved.

Re B and G (Children) (No 2) [2015] EWFC 3

Acted for the LA in the first and lead authority (before the President of the Family Division) on FGM in the family jurisdiction.

Re P (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 1648

Acted for a parent (as appellant) in a Court of Appeal hearing challenging the making of a care order and placement order and the factual and legal basis upon which such orders were granted.

Re G (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 1173

Acted for the LA (as respondent) in a Court of Appeal hearing balancing parental contact with a child in foster care against ongoing contact with her adopted siblings.

Re J-A (Children) [2014] EWCA Civ 936 

Acted for the LA (as respondent) in a Court of Appeal hearing where the mother challenged a decision to place children with a father who had been abusive in the past but she had also been found to have failed to protect a very seriously injured baby.

Re M (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 132

Acted for 16 year old boy (as respondent) in a Court of Appeal hearing where he and his siblings had been victims of physical abuse amounting to torture but parents challenged refusal of contact. 

Sheffield CC v Bradford MDC [2013] 1 FLR 1027

Acted on Appeal in designation case.  Lead authority on construction of new legislation.

Re R (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 687

Acted for LA (as respondent) in a Court of Appeal hearing addressing whether the Court below had correctly refused the father's application for further expert evidence.

Bradford MDC v F, K and K [2012] 2 FLR 1374

Acted for child following death of baby sibling.  Suggestion surviving child caused baby’s death (rejected by Court).

Re K (Children with Disabilities: Wardship) [2012] 2 FLR 745

Acted for 5 children (3 with complex disabilities). Wardship invoked.

Re B (A Child:  Disclosure of Evidence in Care Proceedings) [2012] 1 FLR 142

Acted for parent with learning disability alleged to have killed baby.  Resisted police application to limit disclosure of evidence to parents.

M v M [2010] (Court of Appeal)

Respondent in appeal against refusal to permit instruction of expert where serious violence found by Court but Father continued to deny such violence.

Re R (Care Order: Threshold) [2010] 1 FLR 673

Appeal against ruling that threshold not crossed in respect of newborn despite findings of neglect of older child.

North Yorkshire CC v B [2008] 1 FLR 1645

Lead authority on Court’s power to determine that parent cannot care for child at 'finding of fact' hearing in advance of final care plan.

Re B [2006] 2 FLR 1071

Respondent in appeal against findings of abuse following police investigation in which ABE guidelines for interviewing children not followed.

Kirklees v S [2006] 1 FLR 333 

Appeal against order requiring Local Authority to facilitate contact to newborn 7 days per week.

Re D [2005] EWCA Civ 825

Respondent in appeal against findings of sexual abuse.

Kirklees MBC v Brent [2004] 2 FLR 800

Designated Local Authority when child placed with relatives out of area.

Re O and N; Re B [2003] 1 FLR 1169

Acted for child.  Lead House of Lords authority on threshold criteria and approach to future risk in ‘uncertain perpetrator’ cases.

Re B [2002] 2 FLR 599

Death of baby. Appeal against findings contrary to medical evidence.


  • Protecting Child Victims of Female Genital Mutilation [2015] Family Law 282

  • Adoption in England:  The end of placements dictated by race, language, religion and culture [2014] Family Law 1288

  • The Judge’s Dilemma: Re J [2014] Family Law 91.

  • Placing Children with Relatives: The New Law on Designation [2013] Family Law 180.

  • Ensuring Equal Protection for Siblings [2010] Family Law 505

  • ‘Shocking’ Abuse followed by a ‘Staggering’ Ruling: Re MA [2010] Family Law 166

  • Farewell to the Cogent Evidence Test: Re B [2008] Family Law 859

  • The Designated Local Authority in a Care Order [2004] Family Law 511.

  • Child Protection in the Court of Appeal [2002] Family Law 817.

  • The Threshold Test and the Unknown Perpetrator [2000] Family Law 260.


  • Adoption & Ethnicity and Attempting to Amend s.31 by Legislation - Guest Speaker at FLBA National Seminar.

  • Adoption Law Update

  • The Children and Families Act 2014 - Adoption & Contact

  • Hot off the Press - NE Circuit Seminar

  • The New Transparency Guidelines in Care Proceedings

  • Re B-S and its implications.

  • Guest speaker at NE Circuit FLBA full day seminar: Children Law Update.

  •  Zenith Family Group: Human Rights Applications in Public Law Proceedings.

  •  Local Authority Consortium Seminars: The Designated Authority in a Care Order Zenith Family Group: Non-Accidental Head Injury Cases from a Medico-Legal Perspective.

  •  Zenith Family Group: De-railing the Care Plan

  •  Zenith Family Group: Public Law Update.

  •  Zenith Family Group: Care Proceedings where the Evidence is Imperfect/Incomplete.

  •  An analysis of Re SB [2010] 1 FLR 1161 and its implications for Local Authorities.

  •  Zenith Family Group full day seminar. Violence in the Family: Are the Courts taking Unacceptable Risks with Vulnerable Children?

  • Zenith Family Group: Threshold Criteria: Case Law Update.

What delegates say about John’s seminars:

“fantastic presentation – clear and incisive.”

“a really useful practical look at Re SB – John’s knowledge of his subject is legendary.”

“Fabulous talk. Very relevant to our work. Very thought provoking. “

“Excellent Course – very informative. “

“Clear and interesting and well presented. “

“Concise and extremely helpful tour through a somewhat confusing and unclear area of law. “

Personal Information

Outside Chambers, John enjoys a variety of outdoor sports including; fell-running, orienteering, mountain marathons, outdoor swimming and skiing.


"Has experience of handling highly complex care proceedings at the High Court and the Court of Appeal."

Chambers & Partners (2016)

‘Experienced in the most serious children law cases.’

Legal 500 (2016)