Joint head of chambers, Eleanor Platt, stands down

The Times

Eleanor F Platt QC, joint head of chambers with Alison Ball QC at 1 Garden Court for 17 years, is to stand down at the AGM on March 29, 2007. Her successor is Stephen Cobb QC.

Eleanor was the first silk to join the newly formed set in August 1990, and became joint head with Alison who had started the chambers in January 1989.

Together with Alison, Eleanor steered the set through a period of enormous expansion – 1 Garden Court had 17 members in 1990 and it is now the largest chambers in which all 53 members specialise in family law. There are now six specialist practice teams, each convened by two members of chambers*.

In a letter to members, Eleanor highlighted her reason for standing down now. “Being head of chambers has involved considerable time and effort. I have very much enjoyed my time as joint head with Alison but I think it is time to give way to the next generation.”

She comments: “There have been many changes in chambers and when I look back at where we were in the 1990s, it is gratifying that we are now such a strong specialist set. When I joined chambers I was the only silk, then Alison took silk in 1995, now we have seven. Family work was sometimes treated as not warranting a specialist approach and Alison and I were determined to change that. We felt very strongly that there was a need to move away from what was then the more usual mixed common law set and to concentrate expertise and specialism under one roof.

“Our timing could not have been better. The way in which the family courts approached cases involving children has been hugely affected by the landmark Cleveland enquiry, in which I was instructed. Ultimately that led to the Children Act with its radical reforms of the law relating to children, their families and the role of the State in families’ lives.

“Something else that made the original 1GC different was that we had a very high proportion of women in chambers and we were unique in having two women as joint heads of chambers. It sounds strange to say it now but then that was quite remarkable. Going back to my own early days, there were hardly any women at the Bar and I can remember being told when I was looking for a tenancy that ‘the members’ wives wouldn’t like it’. We have certainly moved on and today 1GC has broadly equal numbers of men and women.”

Eleanor will continue to practice from 1 Garden Court.

Commenting on Eleanor’s decision and his appointment, Stephen Cobb QC said: “Eleanor and Alison together built chambers into a very successful, forward-looking set. We have, through their headship, extremely strong foundations on which to build for the future. To grow to 53 members is a huge achievement and we compete with the very best.

“It is a terrific honour to be taking over. 1 Garden Court has enormous strength and depth among the junior practitioners and with the appointment of two new silks we are in a strong position to build upon the successes of recent years. It is my hope that as joint head with Alison we can become the pre-eminent family chambers in London.”

There is a particular challenge ahead which Stephen feels will need careful management.

“Chambers is facing challenges from the threats to public funding which are currently signalled in the consultation papers from the Legal Services Commission and I am conscious that the set will need careful management to weather those challenges – both as to the financial running of chambers and the morale of our members.”

Stephen has a strong commitment to the promotion of family justice more broadly through his appointment as the first QC on the Family Justice Council, an interdisciplinary non-departmental body created to facilitate better and quicker outcomes for families and children who use the system, and which makes recommendations to Government on changes which will improve the delivery of family justice.


For further press information please contact Ann Grain on 07861 376 844

Notes to editors:

  1. * The six specialist practice teams are: Ancillary Relief; Care & Adoption; Child Abduction; International & Private Child Law; Local Authority; Mediation; and the Human Rights Working Group.
  2. CVs:

Eleanor F Platt QC

Date of Call: 1960 (Gray’s Inn)

Silk Date: 1982

Practice Team membership and other areas of specialisation
International & Private Child Law
Care and Adoption
Child AbductionLocal Authority Team
Human Rights Working Group
Mediation Team

Appointments 1982 Silk

1982-2004 Recorder
1986-1990 Matrimonial Causes Rule Committee
1987-2004 Deputy High Court Judge (Family Division)
1993-1998 Gene Therapy Advisory Committee
1995 Legal Assessor to the General Medical and Dental Councils
1995-2001 Deputy Chairman of the National Health Service Tribunal
2002-2004 President Medico-Legal Society Degrees and other professional qualifications LL.B (London)
Trained Mediator Professional associations Member FLBA (Former Treasurer and Acting Chairman)
Member SE Circuit
Fellow Royal Society of Medicine
Member Association of Women Barristers
President Jewish Family Mediation Register
Member Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Member Bar Musical Society
Member Bar Yacht Club Vice President Board of Deputies of British Jews 2003 – 2006 Languages French Personal, including interests Married, 2 children
The arts, travel and generally enjoying life!   Stephen Cobb QC Date of Call: 1985 (Inner Temple) Silk Date: 2003 Practice Team membership and other areas of specialisation Ancillary Relief International & Private Child Law Care and Adoption (Convenor) Child Abduction Local Authority Team Human Rights Working Group Appointments Silk 2003
Family Justice Council 2004
Recorder 2004 Degrees and other professional qualifications LL.B Hons Liverpool University Professional associations Elected Committee member FLBA (2nd term)
Member of the Bar Council Remuneration Committee
Appointed to the Professional Advisory Group of the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS)
Member of the Family Justice Council Experts Sub-Committee and the Family Justice Council Care Sub-committee
Re-appointed as the senior Member of the Family Bar to sit on the Family Justice Council Leading Junior – Family Child Care including Child Abduction, Chambers and Partners 2000/2001; 2001/2002; 2002/2003 Leading silk – children 2003/2004, 2004/2005: “a star turn & the first choice of many solicitors…” 2005/2006 ranked 1st = in ‘Leading Silks’ Personal, including interests Married, 3 children. Interests revolve around family, with occasional time for enjoyment of wine, reading and sailing.

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