Nina Hansen is head of the Family Department. Her focus is on complex children’s law matters often with an international element. She is praised for her “tactical genius” and her “visionary support” for her clients and for her team. Her vast experience and knowledge both of domestic children’s law and international family law mean that she is known for guiding her client through the vagaries of the interlocking legal systems.
Nina specialises in representing those caught up in cases with complex factual or legal issues (or both); including child abduction, international relocation, adoption as well as cases involving allegations of sexual abuse, intractable contact disputes, alienation, radicalisation, factitious illness and non-accidental injury or death. Often her cases involve Social Services and care proceedings. Nina has conducted cases at every level of Court including the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice. Nina regularly conducts her own advocacy.
Nina is one of a small number of highly skilled and specialised practitioners who are routinely instructed by children who are either the subject of, or who have siblings who are the subject of, child abduction proceedings. Her work in this area has been the subject of many reported cases and judicial guidance on the approach to be adopted in this developing area of international family law. She is considered by many members of the bar and fellow solicitors to be the first port of call in cases where children and young people wish their voices to be heard and to instruct lawyers directly. She has a reputation for ensuring the voice of the child is clear and independent.
In 2023 Nina was awarded the inaugural Children’s Champion award by Resolution and is currently ranked as the star individual in Chambers and Partners for ‘Cross-Border’ Disputes. She is top ranked for Public Law cases (care proceedings) and in the Hall of Fame of the Legal 500 Directory. Spears Directory have classed her as ‘Outstanding’.
From the Directories she is praised “Nina is in a class of her own, She has in-depth understanding across all aspects of children law and a down-to-earth way of engaging with people and clients of all backgrounds. That she brings “a calm and astute perspective to cases”, and “is a particularly impressive lawyer with a great mind”.
Nina is a member of the International Academy of Family Lawyers; the UK Central Authority’s International Child Abduction Unit Solicitors panel and sits on Resolution’s International Committee, having been on the Law Society’s Children Panel for thirty years. She is a a member of the Association of Lawyers for children (ALC) and a founding member of CALA (Child Abduction Lawyers Association)
Nina also lectures on the law relating to children and has written articles and submissions on the changing face of family law. She assisted in the preparation of evidence for the Justice Select Committee on the implications of Brexit for the Family Justice System, drafted guidance for the profession on the impact of Brexit on practice and procedure as it relates to family, and in particular the law relating to children. Nina also gave talks to both Resolution members and to the International Academy of Family Lawyers on the changes to family law in England and Wales on impact of the UK leaving the European Union.
Nina’s most notable reported Cases over the years
Nina and the firm were involved in a series of Child Abduction cases in the UK Supreme Court that determined how the habitual residence of a child at the time of an ‘abduction’ should be assessed. (see Re B below – which was the last of the 5 most important cases).
Nina together with Maria Wright successfully represented one of the mothers in the first same sex case heard by the Supreme Court, in which the Court determined that the child’s habitual residence had not shifted at the time our client made her application thus enabling her, a parent without parental responsibility, to make an application before the Court. The leading Judgment in the matter of B (A child)  UKSC 4 looked at how a child loses and gains habitual residence, determining that a child cannot be without habitual residence. She also represented the mother in Re KL (Hague Convention: Effect of Reversal of Return Order)  UKSC 75, which determined that habitual residence is determined by looking at a variety of factors , one of which is parental intent, another ‘integration’ and ‘the child’s centre of interest’, but no one issue is determinative. In the circumstances of this case the Court made its final decision under the inherent jurisdiction using principles of ‘comity’.
In Re E (Children) (Abduction: Custody Appeal)  UKSC 27  2 FLR 758 Nina represented the mother at the UK Supreme Court when the Court considered the correct approach to the Article 13(b) ‘grave risk’ exception to the duty to return children under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is still the defining case on the subject.
In Re M (Republic of Ireland) (Child’s Objections) (Joinder of Children as Parties to Appeal)  EWCA Civ 26, Nina successfully represented the children in this case when Lady Justice Black gave guidance on how the Courts should look at the ‘Child objections defence’ and how they should be represented in the Court of Appeal.
More recently Nina successfully represented the mother in a very sad case where a young child died in unusual circumstances (see London Borough of Southwark v A Family (2020)  EWHC 3117 (Fam)). The case was unique both on its facts and because there were three separate fact finding hearings and the first ever virtually. See also LB Southwark v US and RT and Others  EWHC 3707 (Fam) the first of the three Fact Finding hearings; followed by the Local Authority’s successful appeal (A (Children)  EWCA Civ 1718); the 2nd fact find:- A Local Authority v M & F & Ors  EWHC 1447 (Fam) and our successful Appeal:- A (No. 2) (Children: Findings of Fact)  EWCA Civ 1947 leading to the eventual final hearing before Sir Mark Hedley.
Nina represented the children in a series of cases involving the same family which resulted in an number of reported cases. The Court of Appeal case Re H (A Child: Parental Responsibility: Vaccination)  EWCA Civ 664 is the definitive case on whether children in Care (or Care proceedings) can be vaccinated against their parents’ wishes, it arose from the earlier reported decision of T (A child), Re  EWHC 220 (Fam). Prior to this the father opposed his son’s birth registration and the case was reported widely (Re T (A Child)  EWHC 1572 (Fam); this case also raised issues of protective orders and the use of the inherent jurisdiction within Adoption proceedings- Prospective adopters v LB Tower Hamlets  EWFC 26;
In the Court of Justice of the European Union Nina, together with Henry Setright QC and Edward Devereaux QC, successfully represented a mother in a dispute around whether prorogation of jurisdiction continued beyonda final order. E v B – (Court of Justice of the European Union) Case C-436/13
In Lachaux v Lachaux 2019 EWCA Civ 738 Nina represented the mother in the Appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of her application for divorce (so she could make an application under the Children Act 1989) as she sought to overturn the divorce obtained in the United Arab Emirates. See also Lachaux v Lachaux  EWHC 385 (Fam).
In NY (A Child)  UKSC 49 Nina represented ‘Reunite International’ together with Counsel Teertha Gupta QC & others) in the Supreme Court when it considered whether the Inherent Jurisdiction still has a part to play in Abduction Proceedings
In Royal Borough of Greenwich v A & Ors (Adoption: Special Guardianship)  EWFC 87 Nina represented the prospective adopters when the Local Authority negligently disclosed all of their details to the birth family. She successfully represented them in the adoption proceedings and then together with Freeman’s Litigation team obtained a healthy resettlement fund for them.
B (A Child)  EWHC 1643 (Fam) was a complicated care and jurisdiction case -Nina represented a sibling by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor.
(the above is not a comprehensive list of all of Nina’s reported cases – one is available upon request)
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