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Alexander Laing

Barrister

About

Alex specialises in children and finance law, particularly cases with an international element.

He is the current Family Law Awards: Junior Barrister of the Year, which is the top category under KC. He is the only barrister ever to have won this twice. He was also the only member of the Bar twice to win the Family Law Awards: Young Barrister of the Year.

Alex is described in the legal directories as “A Queen’s Counsel in the making”, “absolute go-to barrister on all matters”, “amazing on the detail”, “extremely personable, very bright and always thorough and prepared”, “calm, composed and highly knowledgeable”, diligent, unflappable, precise, clear and effective” and “Astute, extremely intelligent, insightful in his analysis, and surgical in his court interventions”.

He is co-author of the two ‘bibles’ of family law, given to every judge and owned by most practitioners in England and Wales: the Red Book and Hershman and McFarlane: Children Law and Practice. Alex is co-author of four further books on family law: Laing and Jackson: Public Children Law: Contemporary Issues (1st edn., 2018)Child Protection and the Family Court: What You Need to Know (3rd edn., 2019); Family Law Precedents Service and A Practical Guide to Family Proceedings (7th edn., 2022).

Alex has appeared in five UK Supreme Court cases about family law over the past couple of years, including the Family Law Awards: Case of the Year. He is also instructed in the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Alex speaks and writes fluent Spanish. He holds a DELE Diploma C2 (equivalent to doctorate level: certifies “mastery”). He previously worked for the United Nations in El Salvador.

Experience

Alex studied history and modern languages at Trinity College Dublin for which he was awarded a First, an honorary distinction and the Gold Medal for receiving a First in each and every paper, essay and dissertation (famous recipients include Samuel Beckett, Nobel laureate). As part of that, Alex spent a year at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain; subsequently, he completed a masters-level programme at the Universidad para la Paz in Costa Rica (distinction: 1st in year).

He completed the GDL (distinction) and the BPTC (outstanding) at the City Law School, London, where he won the Everard Van Heyden prize.

Before coming to the Bar, Alex worked for the United Nations in El Salvador. At that time, El Salvador suffered from the highest murder rate of any country not in open war. His primary tasks were to help investigate corruption in the justice system and introduce electoral reform; he also worked with charities assisting ex “maras” (or gang members) to reintegrate into society.

Alex was the top barrister of his Call to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn across all areas of law. Shortly after, Sir James Munby P described Alex’s work in complex areas as “very impressive” ([2015] EWCA Civ 1112) and “illuminating” ([2016] EWHC 2271). He was then awarded the Outstanding Newcomer in the Field of Children Law: ALC (2017) and the Family Law Awards: Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year (2017).

Practice Areas

Finance and Private Client

Private Law Children

Public Law Children

Human Rights

International Family Law

Testimonials

“He is incisive, always well-prepared, very confident and composed.” Legal 500 2024 Ranked: Tier 3

“Alexander is able to do his job with such skill and make it look so easy. His advocacy is exceptional. He is measured, patient and persuasive. He can read the judge and knows when to push and when to not.” Legal 500, 2023 Ranked: Tier 3

“Alex Laing is extremely personable, very bright and always thorough and prepared. He raises your comfort levels because he’s calm, composed and highly knowledgeable. Judges listen to him and like him.” Chambers and Partners 2023

“Alexander is a singularly hardworking, dedicated and very effective member of the Bar. His position statements and written submissions are always filed on time and are always comprehensive and succinctly identify all of the relevant issues which the court will have to determine. His oral advocacy is of a similarly excellent quality. His oral submissions are pithy and focussed. He has full command of the papers and of the factual and legal issues in each case. He is a most effective and persuasive advocate.” Legal 500 2023

Publications

Books 

The Family Court Practice

Hershman and McFarlane: Children Law and Practice

Family Law Precedents Service 

Child Protection and the Family Court: What You Need to Know (3rd edn., 2019), with Sir Andrew McFarlane P and HHJ Reardon.

Laing and Jackson: Public Children Law: Contemporary Issues (1st edn., 2018), with Dr Bianca Jackson.
 

Articles 

No Exceptions to the Ongoing Involvement of the Judge Who Hears the FDR, Lexis PSL online, 9 August 2019 

Outta Time, But Not Outta Luck (co-author, Greg Williams), The Review, July 2019 

Family: Update, Legal Action (December 2018 / January 2019) 

A Short Note on Habitual Residence: AB v CD [2018] EWHC 1021 (Fam), Family Law Week, 22 May 2018 (read https://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed190031) 

Daedalus, Ariadne and the Minotaur: Where are we now? Family Law Week, 15 May 2018 (read https://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed189940) 

Villiers v Villiers: The Hammer of the Scots?: Part I (co-author, Michael Horton) The Review, May 2018 

Why pro bono? [2018] Fam Law 361 

Villiers v Villiers: An Update (co-author, Michael Horton) Family Law Week, 22 March 2018 (read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed188904) 

I Can’t Get No (Just) Satisfaction: Human Rights Act Claims in Family Law (co-author, Rachel Cooper), The Review, December 2017 

Guidance on the Use of Professional Time to Benefit Children, The Review, September 2017 

Children Giving Evidence in Family Proceedings: A Pocket Guide to the Law, Bloomsbury Law Online, 26 October 2016 (read http://www.bloomsburylawonline.com/children-giving-evidence-in-family-proceedings/) 

Secure, Secure, Secure, Absconding, Bloomsbury Law Online, 5 October 2016 (read http://www.bloomsburylawonline.com/secure-secure-secure-absconding/) 

Children Case Update: Public law: Part 3: Special guardianship orders; female genital mutilation protection orders; BIIa and other international care cases; inherent jurisdiction and wardship; decisions of the Supreme Court [2016] Fam Law 643 

Children Case Update: Public law: Part 2: Fact finding; medical treatment; adoption and placement orders [2016] Fam Law 931 

Children Case Update: Public law: Part 1: Care Proceedings, [2016] Fam Law 643 

And There Lurks the Minotaur: The Interrelationship Between the Inherent Jurisdiction and Section 25, CA 1989: Part II, Family Law Week, 8 July 2016 (read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed161670) 

And There Lurks the Minotaur: The Interrelationship Between the Inherent Jurisdiction and Section 25, CA 1989: Part I, Family Law Week, 22 June 2016 (read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed161398) 

A Very Legal Playground: In the Matter of B (A Child) and the Habitual Residence Seesaw, Family Law (online), 22 February 2016 

Saleem, Shivering and English Winters: Jurisdiction under Article 11 of the 1996 Hague Convention and is published on Family Law (online), 4 January 2015. (read here) 

‘Calderback to the Future: A Debate on the Motion: This House Believes the Calderbank Regime Should be Restored in Family Cases’ [2015] Fam Law 1537 

‘”… this can no longer be tolerated”: a short guide to the correct use of section 20, Children Act 1989’ Family Law Week, 11 November 2015 (read here) 

‘Limping Infants and Article 15 BIIA: the “magisterial” judgment in In the Matter of N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction)’, Family Law Week, 10 November 2015 (read here) 

‘Magna Carta 800 Years On: Faded Lustre and Family Law.’ Family Law (online), 17 July 2015 (read here) 

Genes or Jeans? The Importance of the Genetic Relationship when Evaluating a Child’s Best Interests, Family Law (online), 3 June 2015 (read here) 

Adopting Foreign Children: Part II: A Counter-Argument; Choice of Laws [2015] Fam Law 703 

Adopting Foreign Children: Part I: Jurisdiction [2015] Fam Law 565 (read here) 

Re J: A Lesson on Threshold and Logic, Family Law Week, 23 April 2015 (read here) 

Daedalus’s Twist? Secure Accommodation after a Child’s 16th Birthday, Family Law Week, 9 April 2015 (read here) 

Ariadne’s Golden Thread: Placing Children in Secure Accommodation, Family Law Week, 9 April 2015 (read here) 

Podcast and Case Summaries 

Secure Accommodation Orders and Deprivation of Liberty of Children and Young Persons, 29 July 2017 (listen here http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed178924) 

Alex writes weekly case summaries for Family Law Week. These are available to read http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=se0&s=Laing

Cases

2023

Agarwal v the Czech Republic, app no 44870/19 (19 January 2023) (European Court of Human Rights)

B v C [2023] EWHC 291 (Fam)

Re A (Parental Responsibility) [2023] EWCA Civ 689

B v C (No 2) (1996 Hague Convention) [2023] EWHC 2524 (Fam)

2022

PT v CW & Ors [2022] EWHC 3557 (Fam)

Villiers v Villiers (Rev 1) [2022] EWCA Civ 772

MZ v FZ [2022] EWHC 295 (Fam)

Re N (A Child) (Instruction of Expert) [2022] EWCA Civ 1588

2021 

In the matter of T (A Child) [2021] UKSC 35 

Re D (Care Proceedings: 1996 Hague Convention: Article 9 Request) [2021] EWHC 1970 (Fam) 

Re E (Care Proceedings: Welfare Determination)[2021] EWFC 52 

AX v BX & Ors (Revocation of Adoption Order) (Rev 1) [2021] EWHC 1121 (Fam) 

G v G [2021] UKSC 9 

Villiers v Villiers [2021] EWFC 23 

2020 

Villiers v Villiers [2020] UKSC 30 

Re T (Jurisdiction: BIIR: Cyprus) [2020] EWFC 37 

Re E (Care Proceedings: Fact Finding) [2020] EWFC 24 

M v F [2020] EWHC 576 (Fam) 

 2019 

Re E (A Child: Questioning of Vulnerable Witness) [2019] EWHC 3808 (Fam) 

In the matter of NY (A Child) [2019] UKSC 49 

Re NY (A Child) (1980 Hague Abduction Convention) (Inherent Jurisdiction) [2019] EWCA Civ 1065 

TY and HY [2019] EWHC 1310 (Fam) 

 2018 

T (A Child) [2018] EWCA Civ 2136 

X and Y (Appeal against Care Order) [2018] EWFC B55 

Williams and another v London Borough of Hackney [2018] UKSC 37 

Letts v Letts [2018] EWHC 1639 (Fam) 

Villiers v Villiers [2018] EWCA Civ 1120 

A Local Authority v A’s Father, Mr F & Ors [2018] EWHC 1121 (Fam) 

AB v CD [2018] EWHC 1021 (Fam) 

A Local Authority v T (No. 2) [2018] EWHC 816 (Fam) 

A Local Authority v T (No. 1) [2018] EWHC 576 (Fam) 

 2017 

F v H & Anor [2017] EWHC 3358 (Fam) 

A London Borough v M, F and B [2017] EWFC B93 

J (A Child) (Finland) (Habitual Residence) [2017] EWCA Civ 80 

 2016 

Magiera v Magiera [2016] EWCA Civ 1292 

P (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 1127 

Education and Professional Memberships

Called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn (top barrister) 

The City Law School, BPTC (Outstanding) 

Universidad para la Paz, Costa Rica, M.A.-level certificate, Transitions to Democracy (Distinction) 

The City Law School, GDL (Distinction) 

Trinity College Dublin, B.A. (Mod.) European Studies (Gold Medal; First Class Honours, with Distinction) 

The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn 

Family Law Bar Association 

Resolution 

Languages

Spanish  

Italian (basic)