James has an outstanding practice spanning the fields of children law, matrimonial finance and protective injunctions. He has a reputation as a skilled and experienced advocate who deals with high profile, complex and sensitive cases. He has acted as leading Counsel and also led on numerous occasions by various Silks.
James deals with cases involving serious violence, sexual abuse and the chronic neglect of children. He has particular experience of cases involving:
Factitious and induced illness;
Serious injuries to children involving disputed medical evidence;
False allegations of abuse;
Sexual abuse rings;
Serious criminality (e.g. murder, arson, ‘gang wars’);
Threats to the safety of social workers;
Litigants in person (with mental health problems).
He has experience in applications under the inherent jurisdiction to restrict the liberty of vulnerable children, stop inappropriate associations and to prevent publication of information (including details of criminal proceedings).
He has been instructed by the Official Solicitor and for vulnerable clients (e.g. autism, deafness).
Examples of James’ recent public law cases include:
A mother who stabbed her boyfriend, with him then dying in the presence of the child.
A mother starving her young child near to death, whilst convincing medical professional that the child was suffering with a serious illness.
The abduction of two children by their mother, she having become convinced that the father posed a serious sexual risk despite the court ruling that this was not the case.
A large-scale drug dealer in a ‘turf war’ with other criminals, including – amongst other concerns – a shooting at the children’s home, an arson attack and the use by the local authority of covert surveillance.
A traveller family with a series of difficult issues arising, including: a father suspected of murder; an aunt suspected of feeding a child bleach and allegations of the social workers being under surveillance by the family.
James is experienced in cases with allegations of domestic abuse, serious harm to children and parental alienation.
Examples of James’ private law cases include:
A self-described doctor who attempted to abduct the child to Mexico, and subsequently attempted a further abduction from contact.
Allegations that a mother was grooming the children to join an overseas terrorist group. Appeared against Queen’s Counsel.
A dispute between parents as to whether their child should go to Poland for medical treatment that was illegal in Britain.
James has experience of applications for the range of protective injunctions available in the family courts – principally non-molestation/occupation orders, forced marriage protection orders and female genital mutilation protection orders. Particular examples are:
James also has experience of other legal applications arising from family law cases. This has included claims under the Human Rights Act where local authorities have breached the rights of children, applications for judicial review of the decisions of local authorities in respect of children, drafting applications to the European Court of Human Rights arising from family cases and advising on the powers of the criminal court to restrict publication of information about children. Examples include:
James formerly practiced in crime before specialising solely in family law. His criminal cases included:
Throughout his career James has appeared on a large number of notable cases. A sample of James’ published cases include:
Other cases in which James has been involved include:
Team Manager, Local Authority Child Protection Team
“James Cleary was a complete superstar – we were in court for the majority of the day but he was amazing. We were not hit with an ICO but can 100% guarantee that he not been representing us, we would have ended up with one.”
Legal 500 2023 – Child Law (Public and Private) Ranked: Tier 2
“James is methodical, articulate, and approachable. He is always well prepared and spends time with the clients to ensure their understanding. He is a great sound board and is always available to answer any queries in between hearings.”
Legal 500 2022 – Child Law (Public and Private) Ranked: Tier 2
‘Exceptional ability to explain complexities to a client with learning difficulties and who required the use of an intermediary.’