Cris has specialist knowledge of Gender Equality, Domestic Violence, Honour Based Violence (HBV), Forced Marriage (FM), Abduction, Trafficking, FGM and 21st century slavery. She also has experience of working with child sexual exploitation and radicalisation. She has worked throughout her career on these issues and has regularly contributed to Government consultations and enquiries.
In December 2007 Ben Hoare Bell LLP were the recipients of a three year Legal Services Commission grant to provide professional training on Forced Marriage and other related specialist BME issues. Cris managed this project and led the training of frontline professionals including Judges, Police, Social Workers, Refuge workers, Solicitors and Barristers, Educational Welfare Officers and Law students. The project is also researching barriers which prevent BME clients from accessing their rights under the law. She continues to lecture and train, often with the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit and National NGOs.
She has advised the MOJ and LSC (now the LAA) on the Forced Marriage Act and between January 2011 and the present day, she has she has been asked to consult by the Ministry of Justice on FM/HBV, and also on the cuts to Legal Aid and the impact that they will have on access to Human Rights.
In March 2011 she gave written evidence to the Government’s Home Affairs Select Committee on the new strategy on tackling violence towards women and girls. She has also met with the President of the Family Division, Mr Justice Wall, to discuss the complexities in handling cases of Forced Marriage and Honour/Gender Violence for BME clients. She made a series of recommendations in writing to the President of the Family Division as a result of this meeting and to the Home Affairs Select Committee concerning the changes the UK needs to make to meet its obligation under the CEDAW Objectives.
Also in March 2011 Cris was delegated to attend a UN/CEDAW Women’s Resource Centre in Newcastle and further training is planned. In addition, Cris has worked in South Asia. In December 2010 she visited Bangladesh where she took part in a Judicial and Government Consultation on the draft Trafficking Bill as well as being a keynote speaker on the newly implemented Domestic Violence Legislation in Bangladesh.
Whilst in Bangladesh Cris also visited many women’s NGO’s and saw first hand the work being done to promote CEDAW throughout rural and urban areas of Bangladesh and met with the team at A.S.K to discuss with them their shadow report to the 48th session in Geneva.
Cris has also visited women’s projects in India, Cambodia and Vietnam. Cris has been asked to return to Bangladesh to review the effectiveness of the new Domestic Violence legislation when the law has been implemented over a period of time.
Law Society delegate/Shadow report writer to the UN/CEDAW enquiry, giving evidence at the UN in Geneva (2013) about access to justice and Legal Aid for victims of violence.
She has just submitted the Shadow report critiquing the Government’s response to the CEDAW determination for 2015 on behalf of the women’s sector.
Cris chaired the UN Special Rapporteur for VAW meeting in the North East on the 5th April 2014.
Cris is part of the 2016 MOJ/Law Society/Resolution working party into Legal Aid for victims of VAW. In 2015 she negotiated a change to the LAA financial regulations in favour of students. She was a witness in the successful ROW 2016 Court of Appeal case win over the MOJ to force a change to the LAA VAW regulations.
Cris is an accredited trainer in HBV, FM, DV and Abduction and is a Higher Rights advocate. She has just written the Solicitors Guide to working with FGM for Resolution.
Memberships and Panels
Cris is a member of a number of specialist advisory groups and professional panels including:
- National Domestic abuse panel of Resolution as a specialist in FM/HBV/FGM
- BME women’s Domestic Violence Network.( Co-chair)
- UN/CEDAW Shadow report writing working party
- FCO/HO Forced marriage Unit FM panel.
- International federation of Women Lawyers (International executive committee member- UK representative/executive editor)
- International Child Abduction panel & Reunite International panel
- National lead and examiner in FM/HBV for Family law society (Resolution)
- National Advisory Board member, Rights Of Women.(ROW)
- Child Abduction Lawyers Association (founder member)
- Law Society Access to Justice Committee member (national)
- Abandoned spouses working group (Southall Black Sisters)
Cris has presented at many National and International conferences including:
- International Conference; Reclaiming the agenda DV and BME women November 2010. Conference chair and keynote speaker.
- Lecture tour of Bangladesh on women, violence and the law December 2010.
- IWRAW – Western European delegate to International lawyers symposium on UN/CEDAW in Malaysia. June 2011.
- Parliamentary policy unit Symposium on Forced marriage: London September 2012.
- Forced marriage Symposium with Government and NGOs April 2013.
- BME families, 26 weeks a fair hearing – with HHJ Moir as chair August 2013.
- Conference on FM/HBV. Keynote speaker, together with the Home office FMU lead on Forced marriage, and member of the BME women’s DV network September 2013
- FIDA International women Lawyers conference London September 2013.
- International Conference on Forced Marriage, a European approach Stockholm September 2013 (Keynote speaker)
- Violence a Criminal and Civil Approach – symposium with Dere street Chambers, UNN November 2013.
- Violence and the Law – Keynote speaker at Sunderland University January 2014.
- 1 Billion Women Rising North East February 2014.
- KARMA Nirvana Road show on Forced marriage may 2014.
- Law Society Human rights event June 2014
- Labour party Conference 2014 – access to justice
- FIDA (Fed’ International Women Lawyers) Bangalore November 2014
- Inspirational women of Law Conference 2015
- IMKAAN/Rights of women Forced marriage conference 2015
- CADAN 2016
- Orebro University trans Europe conference on Honour Violence April 2016
Cris is a regular feature writer for the Solicitor’s Journal and Resolution, and a guest lecturer at Sunderland University and Northumbria University on Human Rights, FM/HBV. She has appeared on national TV and radio.
Most recently she has been published in Family Law and LAG magazine, and been commissioned by LAG magazine to write a feature on the history and the future of Domestic Violence legislation, and a further feature on VAW and legal aid.
Cris is a regular feature writer for Legal Voice.
Awards and Citations
- Winner of the Karma Nirvana/Honour Network Honorary Heroine Award for her work with the survivors of DV/FM/HBV 2009.
- Cris was a 2014 LAPG Family Lawyer of the year award Finalist.
- Ben Hoare Bell LLP is LAPG Legal Aid Law Firm of the year 2014.
- Finalist for the National Family Law firm of the Year 2014
- Cris was awarded the National law Society Lawyer of the year award 2014
- Inspirational woman of Law 2015
- In May 2015, Cris was given a life time membership of Durham University Senior common room group.
- FIDA Editor in Chief
- IKWRO Life time achievement for commitment to victims of Honour Violence, March 2016