Laura Coyle


Laura Coyle is a specialist international family law and public law practitioner.

She is one of the few Children’s Panel members to practice both areas of law at the highest level and appears regularly in the High Court and Court of Appeal on both international and public law matters.

She is known for her sympathetic approach to clients and attention to detail as well as her tenacity and legal knowledge. Comments made in the Legal directories include praise for her “all-round judgement and drive” and describe her as “super-tenacious and intelligent ” as well as being “.. absolutely at the top of her game in children care and international work. She knows the ins and outs of procedures and case law, and her client focus is excellent.”  Laura handles both complex public law and international matters, and sources say that “She leaves no stone unturned in a case. She has a forensic knowledge of the law and the facts and keeps a keen eye on tactics. Whether it is a major trial in the High Court or a short hearing, Laura’s clients get her attention and expertise.”. She has been described as ‘extremely conscientious and works tirelessly for her clients’  and “ a go-to person in international children work who isn’t fazed by anyone ”.

Laura is renowned as an expert in complex international family matters including Hague convention cases, enforcement of international Orders and international contact applications where she regularly acts for the applicant and respondent as well as the subject children. She is particularly well known for her representation of competent children which ties together her experience in both international cases and public law matters. During her time at Freemans, Laura has represented clients in numerous reported cases in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal including seminal decisions in the cases involving Wardship and international movement of children as well as applications for enforcement of Orders made in other jurisdictions.

Due to her expertise and experience in international law, Laura is regularly instructed directly by clients who live abroad and who seek the return of abducted children or contact once the children move to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. She frequently acts in Wardship proceedings concerning non-Hague countries and Orders for return which also can include issues such as transnational spousal stranding, female genital mutilations and terrorism links. She has an established practice in examining the High Court’s application and use of its powers under the inherent jurisdiction. She has a particular interest in relocation cases and is regularly instructed on all aspects of private law matters including applications to settle child arrangements.

In her broad public law care proceedings practice, Laura represents parents and children and she is frequently instructed in public law cases with an international element including cases where there are allegations that children have been trafficked or where parents reside abroad. Laura has acted in complex High Court public law cases involving lengthy hearings of over ten days in areas such as factitious illness, sexual abuse, radicalisation and non-accidental injury which include multiple experts in evidence. In addition, Laura has an established practice of representing children alongside their guardians in cases concerning their placement including under Orders which amount to deprivation of liberty and secure accommodation.

As well as working closely with Queens Counsel and senior barristers, Laura  conducts much of her own advocacy in care proceedings including interim and final hearings in addition to  advocacy in her private law practice including in the High Court.

Laura is ranked in both public law and international law in Chambers and Partners as well as ranked in Legal 500. She was shortlisted as Family Law Associate of the Year at the 2016 Jordan’s Family Law Awards.

Laura qualified in 2007 and was admitted to the Law Society’s Children’s Panel in 2012. She joined Freemans in 2008 and was made Partner in May 2017. She is a Resolution Accredited specialist in International Family Law and Private Family law. In 2021, she was admitted as a solicitor in Northern Ireland. She was appointed to the Law Society Sub Committee for Children Law in September 2018. She is a member of Resolution, the Association of Lawyers for Children and the Child Abduction Lawyer’s Association, of which she is the Secretary, and she is also an ICACU panel member.

Laura’s notable cases reported over the years

Laura has acted on behalf of Applicants and Respondents in numerous reported cases during her time at Freemans. A number of notable cases are listed below ;

  • F v M and A and Sec of State [2017] EWHC 949 (Fam) and Re H (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 988Laura successfully represented the child in the Court of Appeal and High Court in this important case concerning the interplay between family cases where the application is for return of a child who had been granted asylum. The final hearing in this case RE A (A Minor) (Fact Finding: Unrepresented Party) (2017)  [2017] EWHC 1195 (Fam) is also notable for the comments made about how the family courts manage an unrepresented perpetrator cross examine a victim where allegations are made of domestic abuse.
  • CS v SBH & Ors [2019] EWHC 634 (Fam) – Laura represented the guardian in this Appeal which is used as guidance for practitioners ( legal and social work) on how to assess the competency of a child involved proceedings in line with the Judge’s determination that Laura’s assessment was correct.
  • Re M (a child) [2020] EWCA Civ 922 – Laura represented the father in his successful appeal against an Order for return of his child from Algeria. This case gave the Court of Appeal an opportunity to set out clear guidance on the use of the parens patriae jurisdiction which has developed over the years as a tool for securing return of children to the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
  • In long running proceedings concerning the same family, S (Children) [2020] EWCA Civ 515, GC v AS [2021] EWHC 14 (Fam) (11 January 2021) S (Inherent Jurisdiction Setting Aside Return Order) (Rev1) [2021] EWCA Civ 1223 (13 August 2021) and most recently, GC v AS (No. 2) [2022] EWHC 310 (Fam) (09 February 2022), Laura has successfully represented the father who has been caring for his children in Libya following a consensual relocation in 2017. This case included a determination on habitual residence as well as consideration of whether the civil doctrine of Henderson abuse should apply when a case it relitigated in Family proceedings. In the most recent judgement, the use of parens patriae was further explored with the Court concluding that in the circumstances of this family, there was no immediate risk to the children to warrant intervention.
  • In the case of RD v TJ (Relocation – BIIA – Transitional Provisions) [2021] EWHC 489 (Fam) (12 February 2021), Laura was the advocate at the final hearing in long running relocation proceedings which addresses the transitional arrangements following the UK exit from the European Union which provide useful guidance in dealing with cases which still fall under EU regulations. Laura was able to successfully obtain a final Order permitting her client’s relocation to Poland.
  • One of the longest running cases Laura has dealt with was the case of M v F & Ors (Rev 1) [2021] EWHC 585 (Fam) (02 March 2021) in which she represented the mother who had been in litigation since 2011 to try and secure a relationship with her children who were residing in the Middle East in their father’s care. The case was picked up by national media due to arrangements made for the mother to give evidence in circumstances where religious and cultural restriction would ordinarily require her to remain covered. More importantly for the client, substantive findings were made regarding the father’s abusive behaviour towards her and the children including deliberate separation from her children and stranding her in Yemen.
  • In the case heard before The President of the Family Division, A (No. 2) (Children: Findings of Fact) [2019] EWCA Civ 1947, Laura represented three of the four children in a long running matter in which The President made findings of spousal stranding, parental alienation and domestic abuse including coercive and controlling behaviour. Through professional intervention, the children were able to re-establish a relationship with their mother whilst remaining in their father’s care.


What they say about Laura

I don't know of a solicitor who knows the law better than Laura Coyle. She is often the one who thinks of a unique angle from which you can argue the case and she is completely dedicated, making each client feel like they are the only one. (2024 Chambers & Partners Guide UK)
Laura Coyle is a high-profile practitioner with a firm foundation in public law children’s cases, but also with tremendous experience in international work at the highest level. She has established a strikingly good reputation in particular as a ‘go-to’ representative for older children who (for whatever reason) are not represented by a CAFCASS lawyer in the most difficult types of international work. In this regard, she continues to appear in landmark cases. Her tactical judgment is acute, and she is a formidable opponent’. (2023 Edition of The Legal 500)
For me you have been simply flawless in your approach to my predicament, be it the confidence you have, your calming influence or your work ethic, I am very grateful.

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