3PB Family strengthens its London team with arrival of Poonam Bhari

3PB’s booming London team has been joined by senior barrister Poonam Bhari from rival chambers St Phillips.

Poonam is well known nationally as a leading family barrister. She has appeared at all levels of court - from the FPC to the Court of Appeal -  acting on legally-aided and privately-funded childcare cases including where there are allegations of sexual abuse, non-accidental injuries, death of a child or parent and non-compliance with contact orders. Poonam was involved in the first proceedings where a Local authority obtained civil injunctions against perpetrators of child sexual exploitation in a landmark ruling and acted on behalf of the young person.  Poonam acted for a parent in proceedings that were successfully appealed by a foster carer seeking to care for the subject children over the competing interests of an extended family member.

She also deals with financial remedies cases and property disputes. Poonam regularly advises clients with mental health and learning difficulties and clients from minority ethnic groups. A former schoolteacher and special educational needs co-coordinator before retraining as a barrister, Poonam has acted for over 18 years for local authorities, parents, the official solicitor and children through their children’s guardians in care cases.

Poonam has also been involved in international family disputes, having appeared in leave to remove from the jurisdiction, forced marriage and child abduction cases and as counsel in overseas adoption matters and for asylum seeking families. She acted in the landmark abduction case last year of Medway Council v MI & Ors where Poonam successfully argued that her client’s children had been abducted to the UK by their father and his new wife (who falsified documents to say that she was the children’s biological mother). The court ruled that her client, the former wife who lives in Africa,  had been deprived of contact with her children who had been abducted to the UK and been subjected to financial and emotional abuse by the children’s father.‎  The children were placed with the client’s sister in Scotland as sought by Poonam’s client.

She is a well-known commentator on family law matters and was  recently interviewed about special guardianships orders and she was a speaker at the recent White Paper Public Law Family Conference.

Poonam was a trustee for over twelve years and Chair of the Board of Trustees for ten years of the well-known legal charity Legal Action Group (LAG), which promotes equal access to justice for socially, economically or otherwise disadvantaged people and offers pro bono support. Poonam is multilingual and takes instructions in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu.

Poonam is currently a member of the executive committee of the Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC), which aims to develop and improve the practise of lawyers in meeting the needs of children who become involved in legal processes.