Major Family Law welcomed  a first rate team of barristers from Parklane Plowden Chambers into their Ponteland Office earlier this week to deliver a number of seminars to the team as part of MFL’s commitment to continuing specialist education.

From Parklane Plowden’s leading North East team, Andrew Mohamdee, Paul Edwards, Hannah Whitehouse, Giorgia Sessi, Maxine Best, Naakesha Michl, John Jackson, Patrick Hulley, Deborah Shield and Rajni Virk were our guests, sharing their expertise and time with MFL’s own strong team of family lawyers.

Whilst everybody understands that all problems arising from separation and relationship breakdown are intertwined, both Parklane Plowden and Major Family Law kept to the principle of focusing on finance and children as separate considerations, as is proper when corresponding about these topics.

Either side of what was agreed to be a buffet lunch to travel for, the day was split into two halves, starting with matrimonial finances in the morning and Children Act matters in the afternoon. The finance-based seminars covered a range of topics including: nuptial agreements, Section 25(g) conduct, short marriages and the division of the family home.

The first speaker of the day, Andrew Mohamdee, delivered an informative presentation on pre- and post-nuptial agreements. He said:

“It was really lovely to meet the team at Major Family Law. I enjoyed delivering my talk on nuptial agreements with the recent case updates. It was also great learning from the other barristers during their talks and I look forward to working with Major Family Law moving forward.”

Experienced counsel Paul Edwards, who also sits as a Deputy District Judge, expressed his expectations of what is to come regarding financial conduct cases, after the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

Engaging with counsel outside of a conference or court setting was helpful. Meeting people outside of the necessary focus of a particular case is helpful for mutual understanding and both teams welcomed the anticipated rapport in future cases.

Those with longer experience before the pandemic made remote hearings the norm for a while and have worked remotely alongside their learned colleagues from regional and national chambers in recent years. But more junior team members found the opportunity to meet the barristers face to face to be very beneficial – a sentiment shared by Giorgia Sessi. She said:

“It was really good to meet the team in person and to spend some time together in the beautiful offices. I hope we can do something again soon”.

Her colleague  Naakesha Michl added:

“It is good to finally put faces to the names of those we work closely with, it allows us to develop more of a relationship.”

After the chance to get to know each other over a spectacular lunch, the topic of the discussions moved from financial considerations to the Children Act, firstly with Maxine Best giving a detailed explanation of “parental alienation” and what this term actually means within the family court. Maxine described the event as:

“…more beneficial than having a larger group seminar, as it felt more like a discussion than a presentation.”

It was a common comment – that the seminars did feel like seminars and not online lectures.

Naakesha Michl followed on from this by summarising part 25 applications and the new pro forma court orders, following recent presidential guidance.

John Jackson and Patrick Hulley rounded off the day with a discussion of domestic abuse, fact-finding hearings and ‘no contact’ orders.

The Major Family Law team found the day to be informative and engaging: the collective expertise of the Parklane Plowden barristers provided for a first-hand insight into the current ‘on the ground’ practices of the family courts, which any lawyer who is office-based finds part of the added-value of engaging counsel.     Good training materials were provided to expand or remind of the points made, which was particularly helpful to those unable to be present.

It is more conventional for barristers’ chambers to host training events for the solicitors who instruct them, so for them to bring a team to just one firm’s offices for a training event was very much welcomed by those in attendance, but also helpful for those only able to attend remotely

Joanne and the whole MFL team would like to offer their sincere thanks to Parklane Plowden for their participation in today’s training day and look forward to future fair outcomes while working together.


From the Major Family Law Team, pictured left to right, back row: Stephanie Layton, Kalem Grant, Anna Hunter, Sahil Aggarwal, Calvin Walker, Lottie Weston, Katherine Lowthian, Rona Samuel, Lucinda Connell, Stacy Williams, Anya Harrison, Louise Thain.

Front row, left to right: Paul Edwards, Andrew Mohamdee, Giorgia Sessi, Deborah Shield, Naakesha Michl, Hannah Whitehouse, Patrick Hulley, John Jackson, Hannah Townsend.