Gareth Thomas

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Clerks

  • Stacey Cadwallader
  • Emma Rogers
  • Natalie Wolfe

Education and Memberships

  • University College of Wales, Aberstwyth, LLB (Hons)
  • Council of Legal Education
  • Family Law Bar Association
  • Northern Circuit

Areas of Work

  • Civil Litigation
  • Employment
  • Family

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General Profile

Gareth has been in practice as an independent and self employed barrister since 1986 and he has been a member of Atlantic Chambers since 2005.

He was a Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2005 representing the constituency of Clwyd West. He served as a member of the Social Security committee and Joint Human Rights Committee. He was the Parliamentary private secretary to the Secretary of State for Wales and for Northern Ireland.

He was brought up on Merseyside but now lives in Denbighshire. He is married and he and his wife have four children between them.

Gareth considers himself fortunate to have started at the Bar when it was possible to gain broad experience in several areas of the law. He has gained experience prosecuting and defending before juries in the Crown Court and before the Magistrates.

Building on his time in the insurance industry before commencing practice,  (in the City of London and the West Indies) he has considerable experience in personal injury litigation representing both  Claimants and Defendants. He has many years experience representing clients in the Employment Tribunal.

In recent years his focus has been on all aspected of Family Law, Personal Injury litigation and Employment Law .

He has represented clients at inquests, and has appeared at two public inquiries in relation to parliamentary boundaries.

He has undertaken work for a number of Police Forces in relation to civil actions and applications for ASBOS and injunctions against gang related violence, and PII disclosure issues.

He has appeared before a very wide range of tribunals and Courts across England and Wales including the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

He has served on the Board of a number of charitable organisations including a housing association and a credit union.

He has served as a county councillor taking a keen interest in social services. He is a fellow of the Industry and Parliament Trust. In past years he lectured on Tort and Contract Law at Liverpool JMU and has judged mooting competitions for Liverpool University. He has undertaken many presentations and seminars on civil and family Law.

Gareth is a fluent Welsh speaker and is able to conduct cases through the medium of Welsh.

The vast majority of his work comes through solicitors but he is accredited and will undertake direct access work on occasion.

He has undertaken pro bono work for the Northern Circuit free representation and advice service.

 

Family Law

Throughout his  career Gareth has had an interest in all aspects of  family work, but in recent years this has become his main area of practice.   As a former member of Parliament  [see general profile] he helped pass  the Human Rights Act 1998, which plays a key role in the work of the Family Court.  He was a member of the powerful Parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee. Although the welfare of the child is paramount, he believes respect for family life and the need for a fair hearing are fundamental human rights, which always need to be reflected by the Courts.

He considers it crucial to develop a trusting relationship with his clients, to take time to understand their cases fully and to prepare thoroughly.

He understands that many clients involved in family litigation feel very emotional and anxious, and have to recount difficult experiences. He knows empathy and patience are required by the advocate.

Many of his clients are vulnerable and  need to have the opportunity to understand and fully participate in the proceedings.

He is familiar with cases involving the need for interpreters and intermediaries.

He will give realistic advice but will always fight hard for the best possible outcome for his clients.

 

Children cases

Public Law(cases where Local Authorities are seeking care or supervision orders)

He represents  parents, grandparents, local authorities,interveners, and children through their Guardian in public law proceedings.

These are cases involving serious allegations of non accidental injury, physical and emotional abuse and neglect.

He is an effective cross examiner able to draw on his experience in criminal law and other areas of law.

He is very experienced in dealing with contested medical evidence and the cross examination of expert witnesses.

He has represented the Police in the Family Court where issues concerning disclosure and Public Interest Immunity arise.

 

Private Law( disputes between parents and family members concerning children)

Gareth represents parents as well as children through their 16.4 guardian in a wide range of disputes including-

-          Contact and with whom a child should live

-          Whether there should be a "shared care" or live with order.

-          Specific issue orders

-          Prohibited steps applications

-          Disputes over re location of children out of the jurisdiction or within UK

-          Disputes over the exercise of Parental Responsibility including change of name, education and medical treatment.

Many of these cases involve a history of  mistrust and hostility and require sensitive but robust handling.

Gareth acknowledges that there is often scope for constructive negotiation, but will not hesitate to fight cases to achieve the best outcome for his clients.

 

Domestic Abuse

Gareth has considerable experience in-

-          applications for non molestation injunctions and occupation orders under the Family Law Act 1996.

-          Cases involving physical and mental abuse and coercive control.

-          Stalking and harassment cases

Gareth is very aware that domestic abuse takes many forms and is often not reported. These cases require sensitive handling and empathy, and  Gareth will not hesitate to fight cases, where allegations are contested and where the client needs the protection of the Court.

He is also aware that those against whom false allegations are made, must have the opportunity to strongly challenge those allegations.

He has recently presented a seminar on domestic abuse and occupation orders and the new Domestic Abuse Bill. He is taking an interest in its passage  through Parliament and hopes to present a talk on it to practitioners when the current lock down is lifted.

Divorce and Financial Remedy work

Gareth has a particular interest and extensive experience in financial remedy work which he has undertaken throughout his career at the Bar. This includes-

-          Applications under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for orders including: transfer of property, lump sum orders, maintenance orders and pension sharing orders.

-          Applications under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for maintenance in respect of children

-          Applications under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 in respect of unmarried couples.

He will work with instructing solicitors and the client to get the fairest and most cost effective  outcome. He will fight cases to final hearing without hesitation, where negotiation has failed to produce a fair settlement.

He is particularly  aware of the need to have full disclosure of all assets and income in these cases.

A recent commendation from solicitors-

"Gareth picked up a brief on a 2 year financial case, for a contested hearing the day before! …but he dug into the whole case and identified the salient  issues and ran with it..thanks to his expert questioning..he showed to the Court that the other side was untruthful and ..got an outstanding result"

Gareth Thomas 2

Year of call: 1986

Inn: Gray's Inn

Area: Civil Litigation
Employment
Family