Emma SOUTHERN 560x670

Emma Southern

Year of Call: 2006
Email Address: emma.southern@3pb.co.uk
Telephone: 01962 868884

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Emma is an experienced family law barrister, who advises and represents clients in a broad range of legal issues including matters concerning contact and living arrangements for children, prohibited steps orders, changes of name, parental responsibility and child abduction. She acts on behalf of clients in divorce proceedings and resolving finances following separation.

In addition, Emma frequently appears in care proceedings issued by the Local Authority and other related matters.

She is an elected committee member of the Bar Representation Committee of Lincoln’s Inn and has been appointed Representative of the Western Circuit for Lincoln’s Inn.

Emma recently took up a role as a Fee-Paid Judge of the First-tier Tribunal, assigned to the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber and in January 2022, she was appointed as a Recorder hearing family cases on the Western Circuit.


  • Family
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    Emma is an experienced family law barrister, who advises and represents clients in all aspects of family law with a particular emphasis on cases involving children.

    Care and Adoption

    Emma regularly appears in complex public children matters representing local authorities, children (through their Guardian), parents and extended family members, including grandparents.

    Emma has a wealth of experience in cases at all court junctures from ICO/Case Management through to IRH, Fact Finding and Final Hearing.  Such cases have involved:

    • Emergency contested hearings (Emergency Protection Orders and Interim Care Orders)
    • Applications for care orders
    • Placement applications and applications to revoke placement orders (adoption)
    • Separate fact find hearings
    • Composite fact find and welfare final hearings
    • Allegations of significant harm relating to non- accidental injuries; chronic neglect; sexual abuse (including rape and incest); death of a child, parent or extended family member, fabricated induced illness (FII) violence, threats to kill, domestic abuse, injunctions; drug and/or alcohol addiction and mental health difficulties
    • s38(6) applications including applications for residential assessment
    • Complex DNA evidence including in respect of monozygotic twins
    • Special Guardianship orders
    • Wardship and Inherent jurisdiction
    • Variety of experts including cross-examination
    • Jurisdictional issues.

    Emma has worked with a broad spectrum of clients including those who have mental health, learning disability and resulting capacity issues which have on occasions necessitated instructions via the Official Solicitor. Emma has completed Vulnerable Witness Training.

    Private Law Children, Injunction and Domestic Abuse

    Emma regularly appears in private law proceedings concerning children as well as proceedings concerning applications for Injunctions and Occupation Orders. Emma represents parents, grandparents and children (through their appointed Guardian).

    Emma has a wealth of experience in cases at all court junctures from First Appointment to Final Hearing.  Such cases have involved:

    Urgent contested hearings relating to interim living arrangements and contact arrangements

    • Applications for child arrangements orders including specific issue orders and prohibited steps orders
    • Applications for Non-molestation orders and Occupation Orders
    • Fact find hearings where domestic abuse is alleged
    • Complicating factors including drug and alcohol misuse, mental health difficulties and capacity issues
    • Removal from the jurisdiction (external relocation)
    • Internal relocation within the jurisdiction
    • Brussels II Revised and related transfer between Member States issues (Article 15)
    • Implacable hostility and parental alienation
    • Applications for expert assessments
    • Section 7 reports, section 37 reports and involvement of the Local Authority.


    Emma also receives instructions to advise and/or represent in proceedings concerning financial remedy, divorce and claims under the Trusts of Land and Trustees Act 1996. She has experience of FDAs, FDRs and final hearings on financial remedy matters.

    Notable cases:

    • Fact find hearing representing Intervenor facing allegations of inflicting multiple non-accidental injuries (fractures and bruising) to a 5-6month old baby. No findings made (2019).
    • Fact find hearing, led by Frances Judd QC regarding allegations of sexual abuse including rape, incest and physical abuse of children. Proceedings necessitated cross-examination of complainant children.
    • Emma appeared as Leading junior counsel for the children in a 10 day fact find concerning multiple serious injuries to very young siblings, complicated further by earlier findings relating to NAI to the older sibling being re-opened for fresh consideration. All findings sought proven.
    • Fact find hearing representing Mother, led by Elizabeth McGrath QC regarding allegations of potentially life threatening injuries to a 4 month old baby including subdural haemorrhages, hypoxic ischaemic injury to the brain, multiple retinal haemorrhages and bleeding in the spine. No findings of non-accidental injuries made. Exploration as to contribution of birth injuries and EDS Type III symptoms to the injuries sustained.
    • Fact Find hearing, led by Kate Branigan QC regarding allegations of non-accidental injuries to two young children concerning fractures, re-fractures, SPNBF and bruising. Symptomology and pain reaction explored with oral evidence from expert paediatrician and radiologist.
    • 18 day Fact Find hearing in the High Court, led by Paul Storey QC regarding allegations of serious sexual abuse, incest and rape during which the complainant child gave evidence and was cross-examined. Client had a learning disability and Communicourt were engaged to interpret throughout. Complex DNA evidence in respect of monozygotic twins explored.
  • Recommendations

    ‘A very persuasive advocate who has the ear of the court. Very measured and calm under pressure. She is well-attuned to the needs of her clients.’

    Legal 500 2022/Child Law (Public and Private)/Leading Juniors/Western Circuit

    ‘Emma is an excellent barrister who has the ability to think outside of the box. Emma pays attention to the detail to ensure the best possible result for her clients. In conference with lay clients she is approachable, friendly and puts the lay client at ease, whilst providing clear and concise advise.’

    Legal 500 2021/Child Law (Public and Private)/Leading Juniors/Western Circuit


    “Emma is very personable and highly skilled in her area of practice.  She has an acutely keen eye for detail, is always well prepared, her written work is of exceptional quality and she has a sound knowledge of the law.  Emma has tremendous client care skills, and is a real pleasure to work with whilst always fighting hard for her clients.  She works incredibly well with both instructing solicitors and opposing advocates, and is highly regarded by all concerned.  She is the whole package” - 2016.

    Client was  “extremely well represented by Ms Southern”.

  • The Legal 500 - Leading Junior 2022 Logo

Legal 500 rankings

  • Leading Junior 2022

Academic qualifications

  • LLB (Hons) University of Bristol
  • BVC, VC (University of the West of England)

Professional qualifications & appointments

  • Recorder (family)
  • Fee Paid Judge of First Tier Tribunal SEND

Professional bodies

  • Member of the Western Circuit
  • Family Law Bar Association
  • Denning Society

Direct Access

Emma Southern is qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public and professional clients under the Direct Access (or Public Access) scheme.

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