Members of Chambers

John Thornton

Called: 2002

John Thornton

Practice Profile

John has been recognised as a 'Leading Junior' in the Legal 500 United Kingdom 2018 and 2017 guide. He is described as 'Very experienced in public and private children law matters.' (2018) 'Pragmatic, forthright and intelligent'. (2017)

John specialises principally in both public and private child law. He also accepts instructions in matrimonial finance. He is often instructed to represent the particularly vulnerable or those facing serious allegations. Formally a Crown Court advocate John has an aptitude for thorough forensic preparation and robust cross-examination. Recent reported cases he has been involved include: KCC v D & Ors (2) (Fact Finding) [2015] EWFC 93 and KCC v D & Ors (5) (Re-hearing) [2015] EWFC 96. A High Court case involving allegations of child sexual exploitation, child trafficking, Class 'A' drug supply, prostitution and rape. John has spoken at Chamber's seminars in his specialist areas. He is Direct Access qualified and has developed a website to assist members of the public gain access to justice with information, practical guides and templates in the aftermath of LASPO.

Some recent cases John has been involved in:

  • 12 day final hearing representing a learning-disabled mother of 4 children. All professionals including the Independent Social Worker and Guardian sought the permanent removal of the children from her care due to concerns about her parenting ability and chronic neglect. All the children remained in the mother's care subject to a supervision order and a robust package of support.
  • 12 day final hearing, with multiple experts, representing a father involving allegations of FII resulting in his child remaining at home.
  • 4 week long fact-finding hearing in the High Court representing a father. The allegations in the case involved child trafficking, sexual exploitation, rape and supplying class 'A' drugs.
  • 5 day fact-finding hearing representing a father accused of historic sexual assault and rape of his step children.
  • Multiple day High Court case representing the mother concerning the Habitual Residence of 4 children.
  • Multiple day fact-finding hearing representing a father accused of causing life threatening head injuries to a baby.
  • Acting for the intervener in care proceedings representing a man accused of causing multiple injuries to a small child.
  • Multiple day Financial Remedy case representing the husband who lived and worked in Germany for a large German bank. Assets included property and businesses in the UK, Germany and Thailand.

John accepts instructions via the Direct Public Access Scheme. He is committed to improving access to justice and has developed a Direct Access website: The site contains step by step guides, writable templates, links and forms to assist members of the public gain access to justice. Recent feedback from those instructing John include:

'John Thornton was the Respondents [A R Harkness] acting barrister in the above court case. He did a thoroughly professional job in my court case and he protected my interests and won me a respectable settlement. I would not hesitate in using John Thornton's services in the future and would not hesitate to recommending him as a representing Barrister to anyone who would require his services in their court case'. Mr A R Harkness

'I have been very impressed with your attention to detail, pragmatic attitude and your willingness to go above and beyond what was expected of you, to ensure a successful outcome on the day. I found your direct access approach very reassuring and I will have no hesitation in retaining your services again' Mr Anonymous

'Thank you John for helping me achieve a very unexpected and satisfactory outcome whilst dealing the Court Hearing this week. As someone who, out of financial necessity, was forced to litigate in person during what had become a long drawn out and contentious financial settlement dispute, I was relieved to have someone with your knowledge, skills and confidence represent me. Your direct and down to Earth approach was refreshing and reassuring, and you managed to make complex legal issues easy to understand. I will not hesitate to recommend you to anyone in need of your services'. Mr G Lewis

'I found the conference with Mr Thornton very helpful. John took the time to clearly explain the options open to myself and the information he provided has allowed me to make an informed decision to what next steps I should take. I found the way John communicated with me to be the best part of the conference as I was apprehensive that I would not be able to understand the legal process. John made this very easy for me to understand due to the way he explained everything through the conference. In short I came away from the conference with the knowledge I needed to progress'. Mr S Wood

'Thank you John Thornton for helping me achieve a successful outcome of my hearing. I found you very professional and easy to talk to about my circumstances. I felt reassured and extremely impressed with the way you dealt with my case. I would not hesitate to recommend your services to anyone'. Ms K Newing

Specialist Practice Areas


  • Financial Remedy - including complex and high value disputes
  • Care and Adoption (for parents and guardians)
  • Private Law Children work
  • Injunctions
  • Cohabitation Disputes

Notable Cases

  • KCC v D & Ors [2014] EWFC 59

  • KCC v D & Ors (2) (Fact Finding) [2015] EWFC 93

  • KCC v D & Ors (3) (Application for Re-Hearing) [2015] EWFC 94

  • KCC v D & Ors (5) (Re-hearing) [2015] EWFC 96
  • KCC v A & Ors (Final Hearing - 12 days) [2017] EWFC B95


  • FLBA (Family Law Bar Association)
  • ALC (Association of Lawyers for Children)
  • Resolution

Hobbies and other interests

Outside Chambers life John keeps active by going to the gym, cycling and trying to keep up with his two sons and daughter.