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Our workshop ‘The Family Drug and Alcohol Court – Problem solving courts and the Family Justice System’ will be presented by HHJ Karen Venables and HHJ Esther Maclachlan who are leading Judges in Family Law (FDAC – Family Drug & Alcohol Court) in England & Wales. They will share their insights and experiences, and the importance of working to keep families together where possible.
Karen qualified as a solicitor in 1986 and was the managing partner of a large family legal aid practice in London. She was appointed a District Judge in 2003 and a Circuit Judge in 2013. She sits in the Family Court at Milton Keynes and hears a wide range of complex public and private law children’s proceedings. Karen has been appointed the judicial lead responsible for the development of a local domestic abuse strategy for her court. She is also the lead FDAC (Family Drugs and Alcohol Court) judge for Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire and is involved in training and mentoring new FDAC judges throughout the country. She has also been involved in a range of initiatives to promote family justice, inter-agency co-operation and multi-disciplinary approaches including the evolution of problem-solving courts and a review of the way in which the voice of the child can be heard in private law proceedings. Karen was appointed as the Circuit Judge Member of the National Family Justice Council on 1st October 2021.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth appointed Esther Anne Maclachlan to be a Circuit Judge on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, the Right Honourable Dominic Raab MP and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Right Honourable The Lord Burnett of Maldon.
The Lord Chief Justice deployed her to the South Eastern Circuit, based at Milton Keynes County Court and Family Court with effect from 1 November 2021.
Esther Anne Maclachlan, is known as Her Honour Judge Maclachlan. She was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) in 2005 and appointed as a Deputy District Judge in 2015.