Practice area

Family Law

Year of call: 1984 (QC: 2006)

Chambers and Partners 2014:

Gillian Irving QC builds on her national reputation in care and Court of Protection work, drawing praise for her strong advocacy and gentle nature with her clients.

Expertise: “She is strong-willed, powerful and able to turn a case around.” “Gillian is feisty, and does excellent work with children and vulnerable clients.”

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  • Part-time Judge of the Health, Education & Social Care Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal in the Jurisdiction of Care Standards and Mental Health
  • Legal Member of Sport Resolutions (UK) Sports Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators.

Specialist Areas of Practice

  • All aspects of child care law and adoption
  • Court of Protection applications
  • Mental Health Review Tribunals
  • Residence and Contact Abduction
  • Inquiries – public and private
  • Judicial Review

 Areas of Practice

Gillian Irving began her career at the Bar practising in the field of personal injury and industrial disease. She subsequently went on to apply her interest in and knowledge of medical issues to the child care arena. She has now gained nearly 30 years experience in cases involving allegations of non-accidental injury, fabricated illness, failure to thrive, neglect and sexual abuse. She is regularly instructed in cases involving complex medical issues. She appears for both Local Authorities and parents. She has appeared at all levels including the Supreme Court where she appeared on behalf of the mother in the case of Re C, in which their Lordships clarified the obligations of a Local Authority to assess a parent pursuant to Section 38(6) of the 1989 Act. Stockport MBC v D was one of the earliest reported cases dealing with threshold criteria and in that case Miss Irving appeared on behalf of the Local Authority. In the case of C v Bury MBC Miss Irving succeeded on behalf of the Local Authority in defeating arguments which maintained that the Authority had acted in a way which was incompatible with the mother’s human rights. This case established the procedure to be adopted in cases where a breach of the Human Rights Act is alleged.

Prior to being called to the Bar, Miss Irving worked for solicitors specialising in mental health law. She regularly attended upon patients detained at Rampton Special Hospital and gained experience of the Tribunal system and knowledge of the variety of mental disorders and their treatment. She has an enthusiasm for cases involving a mental health element and has a strong personal commitment to ensuring that those under a disability have their rights fully recognised and met. She regularly advises Local Authorities and individuals as to their duties, rights and obligations both under the Mental Health Act, Mental Capacity Act and under the Community Care legislation.

She is frequently instructed on appeals to the Upper Tier Tribunal.

Her dual experience in both the field of child protection and mental health has seen Miss Irving appointed in both public and private Inquiries. In 1996/1997 she was appointed to represent the patients detained on the Personality Disorder Unit at Ashworth Special Hospital in the second Public Inquiry which related to the security of that Hospital and the treatment of psychopathic disorder. Not only did this necessitate her analysing, digesting and organising vast quantities of documentary material but she sought information and advice from other Hospitals around the country involved in the treatment of those with psychopathic disorder.

She has represented the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police in an Inquiry into the murder of child ‘X’; the perpetrator suffered from mental health problems. Th e Inquiry was convened under Section 34 of the NHS Executive Health Service Guidelines (94) 27. It looked not only at the circumstances surrounding the murder of the child but explored the roles of a variety of agencies and particularly those involved in the care and treatment of the perpetrator.

In 2009/10 she represented Manchester City Council in the reported case of G v E and others shown below. Th e case involved a full understanding and analysis of the concept of ‘Deprivation of Liberty’ and the impact of the MCA 2005 on many of the pre-existing arrangements put in place by Local Authorities for the care of those without capacity.

There was close media interest in the case and Miss Irving advised and responded to the applications made on behalf of the Press Association.

More recently, she appeared in the reported case of Re X (A child) [2011] EWHC 430 [Fam]. The issue related to children giving evidence in family proceedings and the impact of recent guidance provided by the Family Justice Council.

In April 2012 she was appointed to the National Child Safeguarding in Sport Panel.

  • Manchester City Council v S [1991] 2 FLR 370
  • Stockport MBC v D [1995] 1 FLR 873
  • Re B (Care and Supervision Order: Assessment) [1996] 2 FLR 708 CA
  • Re C (Interim Care Order: Assessment) [1996] 2 FLR 708 CA
  • A Metropolitan Borough Council v DB  [1997] 1 FLR 767
  • R v Devon County Council ex parte O (Adoption) [1997] 2 FLR 388
  • Re CH (Care or Interim Care Order) [1998] 1 FLR 402 CA
  • C v Bury MBC [2002] 2 FLR 868 FD
  • Greater Manchester Chief Constable v KI & Anor (Children) & Ors [2007] EWHC 1837 (Fam)
  • G v E v Others 2010 EWHC 621
  • MD v Nottinghamshire Health Care NHS Trust (Rev 1) 2010 UKUT 59 (AAC)
  • G v E Others 2010 EWHC 2512
  • G v E Others 2010 EWCA CIV 822
  • CJ v Flintshire Borough Council 2010 EWCA CIV 393
  • Re X (A child) [2011] EWHC 430 [Fam]
  • Re L & B (children) 2013 UKSC 8
  • MD v Mersey Care NHS Trust 2013 UKUT 127(AAC)
  • J,A,M and X (children) 2014 EWHC 4648 (Fam)


  • (1) The Inquiry into the Personality Disorder Unit at Ashworth Special Hospital 1996–1997
  • (2) The Inquiry into the death of child ‘X’ 2005/2006


  • BA (Hons) Law


  • Inner Temple