James Haddock

James Haddock

James has a diverse practice at Blackburn Chambers in Canberra. However, his focus is on family law, particularly complex parenting and property disputes. Matters involving allegations of physical, sexual, or psychological risk to children and family violence are a particular area of interest, as are matters involving equitable trust structures.

In addition to his undergraduate qualifications, James has a Masters of Law with a speciality in Government and Commercial Law from the Australian National University. This gives him an edge in understanding how different areas of commercial law can intersect with the complexities of financial disputes following separation in a high-value commercial context. James also routinely deals with care and protection and Family Violence Order matters, which are the cause of his occasional media celebrity after appeal work.

James has significant experience with complex advocacy, appellate, and appearance work in the Federal Circuit Court, the Family Court, the Full Court of the Family Court, the Children’s Court, and the Supreme Court of the ACT.  James routinely appears in the Federal Circuit Courts Wagga, Wollongong and Albury circuits and is often briefed for matters in Sydney, Melbourne, and occasionally Brisbane.

Before being called to the Bar, James was the In-House Counsel and Head of Practice for Legal Aid ACT’s family law practice. In that role, James was a trained Independent Children’s Lawyer for many years. He was also an Accredited Specialist in Family Law with the NSW Law Society, a qualification requiring significant skill and additional study. James accepts briefs from all Independent Children’s Lawyers and enjoys working alongside them.

James is heavily involved with developing legal knowledge and CPD through his personal presentations and as a long-term Committee Member/President/Vice President of the Canberra Region Family Law Professionals Association, a peak body for family lawyers in the ACT. James is also a member of the ACT Bar Association’s Family Law Committee and is often asked to present CPD for the ACT Law Society.

In recognition of his skills, dedication, and drive in 2018, 2019, 2020,2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024, James was recognised as a Leading Family Law Barrister for the ACT in Doyle’s Guide, an international listing of leading legal professionals.

James is a trained and successful mediator with many years of experience in helping parties reach an agreement in what appear to be intractable disputes. James is also an AIFLAM-accredited arbitrator for family law matters.

Together with Brodie Buckland and Sage Leslie, James is a host of Observations on Brief: A Legal Podcast, which explores interesting legal topics.

James has no interest in achieving a work/life balance as he believes work is life. He has no interest in golf. He has an unfortunate addiction to peanut MnMs and Twix bars.

Called to the Bar

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02 6247 7881



Practice areas

Criminal law
Domestic violence
Family law
Wills and Estates


  • Sasko and Radavich [2016] FamCAFC 179. This matter involved a complex appeal from a final
    parenting determination. Appearance as the Independent Children’s Lawyer. Sought and achieved
    dismissal of the appeal with an order for costs.
  • Giddens and Giddens [2016] FCCA 3201—Contempt proceedings. Appeared for party in contempt.
    The client received the lowest custodial sentence ever ordered in family law proceedings for an offence of that
  • CP & Director-General, Community Services Directorate [2018] ACTCA 23- Major care and protection proceedings leading to ACT Legislative Assembly enquiry into the ACT’s Care and Protection System.
  • Director of Public Prosecutions v Booth [2018] ACTCA 8- Case stated to Court of Appeal on claim of right in criminal proceedings.
  • Dawar & Dawar [2019] FamCA 569- defending an application for disqualification on the basis of apprehension of bias.
  • Hasila & Fatisa (no 2.) [2019] FamCA 622- 8 day major unacceptable risk case for no time successfully made out with findings of credit made against the father.
  • Salt & Salt [2020] FamCA 10- defending stay application following major unacceptable risk trial.
  • Pascoe & Larsen [2022] FedCFamC1A 64- Parenting appeal where appeal dismissed with costs awarded.
  • Lander & Bradbury (no 2) [2022] FedCFamC1A 194- Successful application to summarily dismiss appeal.
  • Gipps & Ning [2023] FedCFamC1A 141-Successful defence of appeal with costs awarded.
  • Radev & Radev (No 3) [2023] FedCFamC1F 221- Parenting claim brought by maternal grandmother dismissed.
  • Rong & Huan (No 4) [2023] FedCFamC2F 1342- Parenting and property claim involving split siblings and return of child from China.
  • Gipps & Ning [2023] FedCFamC2F 1342- Property claim for Wife with family violence features. Findings of credit based on cross-examination against the Husband.
  • Chadwick & Chadwick [2023] FedCFamC2F 312- Complex allegations of child sexual abuse. Change of residence achieved for client who had not spent time with the children for 3 years. Significant findings of credit and adoption in total of the cross-examination of the expert.


  • ‘A Primer on the Psychology of Judicial Decision Making’ [2023] ACT Bar Association Journal
  • ‘The Troubled Path: Bar Council Disciplinary Decisions and the Legal Professions Act 2006 (ACT)’ [2023] ACT Bar Association Journal
  • ‘Expert Evidence- A Primer for Experienced Hands’ [2021] Albury Law Society
  • ‘Affidavit Drafting 101’ [2021] ACT Law Society
  • ‘Superannuation in Family Law: Why Carpe Diem does not Work’ [2020] ACT Law Society
  • ‘Improving Equality for Women at the Bar’ [2020] ACT Bar Association Journal
  • ‘Diversity is the Heart of the Bar: Diversity at the Bar the Next 100 Years’ [2019] ACT Bar Association Journal.
  • ‘Assessing Expert Reports: How to Assess Expert Evidence as a Lawyer’ [2019] NSW Southern Slopes Law Society & Blackburn Chambers.
  • ‘The ICE Epidemic: Drugs in Family Law’ [2019] Canberra Regional Family Law Professionals Association.
  • ‘Expert Evidence: The Tricks and Pitfalls’ [2018] ACT Young Lawyer’s Committee.
  • ‘Conducting Interlocutory Proceedings’ [2017] ACT Young Lawyer’s Committee.
  • ‘Interim Proceedings in Family Law’ [2017] Canberra Regional Family Law Professionals Association.
  • ‘Acting for a Parent in the Children’s Court’ [2016] Family Law Pathways Network.