Muctar Johal

What I do

I qualified as a Solicitor in 1991 and joined Smith Partnership in 1999, having spent 10 years working for local authorities. I have over 28 years of experience in practising almost exclusively children's law.

I set up the Childcare Law department in 2002, and was made a Partner in 2006. In the same year I qualified as a Solicitor Advocate (Civil) and in 2013 I became the Client Care Partner at our head office. My team and I specialise in all areas of childcare law, but in particular public children's law where the state, through the guise of the local authority, has intervened in private family life due to allegations of child abuse or neglect. I conduct all my own advocacy, including against nationally-renowned silks and leading junior counsel, predominantly in the County and High Court. I am regularly instructed by CAFCASS, children and parents in the most legally- and factually-complex child abuse cases involving child deaths, serious head injuries, other serious non-accidental injuries and allegations involving serious sexual abuse. A number of the cases I have been involved in have been reported, including:

  • M v Derbyshire County Council and others [2018] EWHC 3734 (Fam)
  • Re Z (A Child - Care Proceedings - Separate Representation) [2018] EWFC B57
  • Re O (Fact Finding Hearing - Parents Refusing to Participate) [2018] EWFC 48, [2018] All ER (D) 91 (Jul)

I have also been instructed by CAFCASS in cases involving disputes between parents as to childhood immunisation — such as Re B (A Child - Immunisation) [2018] EWFC 56, 168 NLJ 7808, [2018] All ER (D) 11 (Sep) — as well as contested surrogacy cases, disputes regarding children from same-sex relationships, and for leave to remove from the jurisdiction.

I have lectured for many years on the subject of public childcare law on CPD-accredited courses around the country, and have delivered papers in a number of national conferences. I have also taught childcare law on the Social Work Masters at the University of Leicester.

I was formerly a member of the Family Justice Council in Derby and a former chair of its Expert and Disclosure Subcommittees for a number of years.

I am a Partner and Head of the Childcare team, and therefore responsible for the work of all our Childcare and Social Services Solicitors and staff. I bring my 27 years of post-qualification experience and expertise in leading the team and driving forward our agenda to provide the highest possible level of service and representation to our clients involved in public childcare law proceedings brought by Local Authorities/Social Services involving their children.

I spearhead the drive to ensure that not only do we provide advice and assistance leading up to any proceedings, but that we offer continuity through representing our clients at most, if not all of the court hearings.

I am married with 3 children who take up most of my time. For better or for worse, I am a follower of Liverpool FC.

Extremely compelling advocate' and head of childcare Muctar Johal 'is highly respected in the field of child protection.

The Legal 500, 2019

Effective advocate" (...) "adept at handling the most complex cases involving children" (...) "skilled and subtle negotiator.

The Legal 500, 2017

An excellent advocate.

The Legal 500, 2015

The legal knowledge and advice that is given – especially by Muctar Johal – is superior to advice from other legal firms.

The Legal 500, 2019

At Smith Partnership, Muctar Johal ‘leads his team by example’ and is a renowned figure in children law.

The Legal 500, 2023

Muctar Johal leads his team by example. His advocacy is exceptional. He is calm and unflappable. His ability to digest complicated medical reports is phenomenal.

The Legal 500, 2023

The breadth of experience and knowledge within the family team make it the go to firm within the area for advice on complex legal issues.

The Legal 500, 2023

Muctar Johal is quite simply exceptional. On the very rare occasions he does not have the answer to a complex legal issue, he will undertake thorough research and you can be sure you are getting the best advice.

The Legal 500, 2023