Sara Phelan SC

Member of the Inner Bar

  • Junior Counsel: 1996
  • Senior Counsel: 2013
Qualifications:

B.Sc. (Pharm), TCD 1988, Prof Dip Prof Reg, UCD 2019, Prof Dip Arbitration, UCD 2020, Accredited Mediator (CEDR), Arbitrator (FCIArb), Certificate in Advanced Negotiation (CEDR), Harvard PON Global

Areas of Practice:
  • Administrative Law
  • Criminal
  • Family Law
  • General Common Law
  • General Practice
  • Judicial Review
  • Tort & Personal Injury Law
Sara Phelan SC
Mediator
Accrediting Body: Bar Council Courses, CEDR
Arbitrator
Accrediting Body: Prof Dip Arbitration (UCD, 2020) Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb)
Circuits:

South Eastern
Memberships:
Bar of England & Wales
Other Memberships:
Arbitration Ireland
CEDR International Mediator Panel
Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
Employment Bar Association
Family Lawyers Association of Ireland
GEMME (Associate Member)
Irish Criminal Bar Association
Irish Women Lawyers Association
Mediators Institute of Ireland
Probate Bar Association
Professional Regulatory and Disciplinary Bar Association
Direct Professional Access:
Not provided

Sara Phelan is a Senior Counsel with a broad breadth of practice areas, primarily in the Superior Courts.

Sara was called to the Bar in 1996, having previously qualified (TCD, 1988) and practised as a pharmacist for a number of years.  She took silk (became a Senior Counsel and Member of the Inner Bar) in 2013.  In 2019, Sara was admitted to the Bar of England & Wales and is a member of Middle Temple.

As Junior Counsel, Sara practised primarily on the South Eastern Circuit and, since taking silk in 2013, has a broad legal practice, including personal injury law, crime, child/family law and judicial review/non-jury, with further interests in chancery, probate and mental health matters.  Sara is also a qualified Mediator (CEDR) and Arbitrator (FCIArb) – see ‘Additional Information’ below.

  • Sara is an elected member of the Bar Council of Ireland (since 2019) and is Chair of the Bar of Ireland Professional Practices Committee (2020/21 & 2021/22), having previously chaired the Arbitration & ADR Committee (2019/20).  Sara was elected Chair of the Bar Council on the 6th July 22 and will commence her term of office on the 12th September 22.
    Sara also chairs the Law & Women Mentoring Programme (under the auspices of the Equality & Resilience Committee), and she is a member of various other Bar Council Committees and the Council of King’s Inns.  Sara is a faculty member of the Bar of Ireland Advanced Advocacy Programme and is a Mental Health Tribunal Chairperson (since 2016).

From an extra-curricular perspective, Sara is a dog-lover, keen swimmer, fledgling white water kayaker, and self-professed foodie!

The nature of Sara’s practice (particularly in personal injury & family law) is such that most cases settle and are thus not reported and most of her criminal practice is circuit-based and again reported judgments are not available.
However, a selection of cases, indicative of Sara’s various practice areas since taking silk in 2013, are listed below and the judgments referred to may be accessed by clicking on the case name.

Administrative law

Personal Injury

Family Law

  • Garda Jarlath Burke v. G.M. & I.M., unreported, Faherty J, 03 Feb 20
  • C.O’S. and T.B. (A minor suing by his mother and next friend C.O’S.) v Her Honour Judge Alice Doyle and D.B. & The Attorney General (Notice Parties) [2014] 1 IR 556, [2013] IESC 60

Sentencing Appeals (Criminal)

Mental Health Act/Article 40 applications

Procedural applications

The publications referred to may be accessed by clicking on the title of the article.

Family Law

  • Family Law: Arbitration (live panel discussion) – 5 Jurisdictions Family Law Conference, 28th May 2022, Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin
  • Family Law: Mediation (PowerPoint presentation + paper) – Law Society Finuas Skillnet, General Practice Update, 11th November 2021, Hotel Kilkenny, Kilkenny
  • High conflict custody disputes and inadequate welfare reports (PowerPoint presentation) – Circuit Court Conference, 1st October 2021, Dublin Castle
  • Succession law and ancillary reliefs (PowerPoint presentation + paper) – Family Lawyers’ Association Breakfast Briefing, 8th June 2021 (via Zoom)
  • Mediation in the context of family proceedings – a reflection on the Mediation Act 2017 (PowerPoint presentation + paper) – Family Lawyers’ Association Circuit Conference, 19th April 2021 (via Zoom)
  • Guardianship, Custody, Access – where are we now? Changes since the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (PowerPoint presentation + paper) – Family Lawyers’ Association Circuit Conference, 27th April 2020 (via Zoom)
  • Vulnerable witnesses (PowerPoint presentation) – Family Lawyers’ Association Seminar, 26th March 2019
  • Vulnerable witnesses – an Irish perspective (PowerPoint presentation) – The Four Jurisdictions Family Law Conference, 2nd February 2019, Edinburgh
  • Pensions & pension adjustment ordersWaterford Solicitors’ Bar Association, 8th July 2011 & Carlow Solicitors’ Bar Association, 18th July 2011
  • Cohabitees & the law + Recognition of foreign divorces & Brussels 2-bis conventionTipperary Solicitors’ Bar Association, 12th April 2005
  • Family law practice and procedureWexford Solicitors’ Bar Association, 14th April 2004
  • Property adjustment orders and judicial discretionBar of Ireland/Family Lawyers’ Association Conference on The Irish Law of Divorce – substance & procedure, 1st March 1997 [co-presentation with Gerry Durcan SC]

Mediation

  • Family Law: Mediation (PowerPoint presentation + paper) – Law Society Finuas Skillnet, General Practice Update, 11th November 2021, Hotel Kilkenny, Kilkenny
  • Dealing with lawyers in mediation (PowerPoint presentation) – Pre-recorded presentation for the King’s Inns Advanced Diploma in Mediation, 21st September 2021
  • Mediation in the context of family proceedings – a reflection on the Mediation Act 2017 (PowerPoint presentation + paper) – Family Lawyers’ Association Circuit Conference, 19th April 2021 (via Zoom)
  • What next for mediation in Ireland – live panel discussion – CEDR Webinar, 28th January 2021 (via Zoom)
  • Mediation: contemporary issues – live panel discussion – LSDI, King’s Inns, 10th January 2020, Dublin

Ethics & Professional Standards

  • Ethics – presentation on ethics – fundraising Seminar in aid of the Capuchin Day Centre, Bow St, Dublin 7, 7th July 2022
  • Dignity at Work Protocol and Disciplinary Regulations – presentation on the interplay between the Bar of Ireland DAW Protocol and the Bar of Ireland Disciplinary Regulations – Bar of Ireland CPD Seminar, 22nd June 2022
  • Ethics and the independent referral bar – live panel discussion with Prof Philippe Sands QC, Dr Chris Cowley UCD and chaired by Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty – Bar of Ireland Webinar, 13th October 2021 (via Zoom)
  • Looking back to look forward – ethical standards of the independent referral bar in 2021 and beyond (PowerPoint presentation linked to Bar Review article – The Bar Review 2021, 26(3), 80-84) – Bar of Ireland/South Eastern Circuit CPD Conference, 26th April 2021 (via MS Teams)

Employment Law

  • Objective Justification & Age Discrimination (PowerPoint presentation + paper [in conjunction with Katherine McVeigh BL]) – Employment Bar Association Annual Conference, 25th November 2020 (via MS Teams)
  • Data protection from a barrister’s perspective – practical tips & guidance (PowerPoint presentation) – Employment Bar Association Breakfast Briefing, 13th February 2019, Dublin

ePractice

  • Going Paperless – live panel discussion – Bar of Ireland Webinar, 1st May 2020 (via MS Teams)
  • A Paperless OfficeBar of Ireland Webcast, 16th April 2020
  • Practice Management Conference (PowerPoint presentation on a paperless practice) – Bar of Ireland, 11th October 2019, Dublin

Data Protection

  • Data protection from a barrister’s perspective – practical tips & guidance (PowerPoint presentation) – Employment Bar Association Breakfast Briefing, 13th February 2019, Dublin
  • GDPR – an update (PowerPoint presentation) – Association of Consulting Forensic Engineers, 20th April 2018, Dublin
  • Data protection developments – counsel’s obligations (PowerPoint presentation) – Bar of Ireland/South Eastern Circuit CPD Seminar, 14th March 2018, Kilkenny

Tort

  • The law of negligence in Ireland todayBar of Ireland Conference on The Law of Personal Injuries, 10th May 1997 [co-presentation with Eileen Lydon SC]

 

Sara has also chaired numerous conferences, seminars & webinars on a variety of topics including medical negligence, ethics, arbitration & mediation.

  • Sara has a significant interest in ADR and particularly in mediation and arbitration.

Mediation

Sara first became interested in mediation in 2005 when she undertook training with the Bar Council and she subsequently trained in mediation advocacy with Mediate Ireland in 2010.  This then led to further and more intensive ‘mediation skills training’ in 2012 with CEDR (in London), leading to mediator accreditation.  She has since kept in contact with CEDR, from a CPD/networking perspective and is one of only three Irish members of the CEDR International Mediator Panel.  Sara is also a member of the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland and an associate member of GEMME (European Association of Judges for Mediation).

See https://www.themii.ie/members/profile/1190 and https://www.cedr.com/about-us/people/sara-phelan/

Arbitration

Sara is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (FCIArb) and a member of Arbitration Ireland.

In tandem with chairing/being a member of the Bar Council Arbitration/ADR Committee, Sara undertook the Professional Diploma in Arbitration, UCD 2020, graduating with distinction and she is currently spear-heading an initiative [in conjunction with the Family Lawyers’ Association and the CIArb (Irish Branch)] to examine the feasibility of (and hopefully facilitate the development of) family law arbitration in Ireland.

Sara has a strong sense of justice and fairness, together with a social conscience, and throughout her career, Sara has demonstrated an interest in, and willingness to assist, the marginalised and disadvantaged and the more vulnerable members of society.

To this end, Sara is a founding signatory of Pro Bono Pledge Ireland (see http://probonopledge.ie/founding-signatories/) and is wholly committed to undertaking pro-bono & voluntary work where appropriate.

From a volunteering perspective, Sara is an elected member of the Bar Council of Ireland (since 2019) and is Chair of the Bar of Ireland Professional Practices Committee (2020/21 & 2021/22), having previously chaired the Arbitration & ADR Committee (2019/20).  Sara also chairs the Law & Women Mentoring Programme (under the auspices of the Equality & Resilience Committee), and she is a member of various other Bar Council Committees and the Council of King’s Inns.

Sara is a faculty member of the Bar of Ireland Advanced Advocacy Programme and has partaken in both ‘train the trainer’ training and participant training on a number of advanced advocacy training courses.

Extra-curricularly, Sara is a Mental Health Tribunal Chairperson (since 2016) and has chaired a number of mental health tribunals around the country from 2016 to 2019.

Sara is a highly qualified, very experienced, enthusiastic, eloquent and expert lawyer, with a very strong academic and practical record.  She is committed to excellence and has an ability to think logically, evaluate, analyse, interpret, assimilate and disseminate complex facts, expert opinion and legal principles in a very clear manner.

Sara is known by her colleagues to be forthright, decisive and strong-minded, but non-partisan, and she has an ability to connect with people from all backgrounds and walks of life.  Given the broad nature of her practice, she also has the privilege of dealing with clients from many differing socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, and this has allowed her to develop insight into the lives and fortunes of others, that she may not have developed had she had a more narrow practice/client-base.

In her practice Sara deals with many vulnerable individuals (for example, young persons and individuals with cognitive impairment) and cases of a sensitive nature (such as family law cases, civil sexual abuse claims and criminal prosecutions for sexual assault) and she consistently demonstrates an ability to exercise absolute discretion and an empathetic approach to such individuals/cases.  Sara’s interest in, and commitment to, vulnerable individuals is borne out by the presentation she gave to the Four Jurisdictions Family Law Conference in Edinburgh in February 2019 and in the fact that she has attended vulnerable witness advocacy training organised by the Bar Council (Advanced Advocacy Conference Handling Vulnerable Witnesses, 7th January 2016).  More recently, Sara has participated in, and completed, the inaugural Vulnerable Witness Training Programme (three sessions in total) organised by the Bar of Ireland arising out of the recommendations contained in the O’Malley Report (July 2020) on the Review of Protections for Vulnerable Witnesses in the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences.

Contact Form

This form is made available to solicitors & in-house counsel for professional purposes only, and to members of Approved Bodies for the purposes of Direct Professional Access

Contact

Mobile
087-239 3373
Email
saraphelan@lawlibrary.ie
Address
Law Library Four Courts Dublin 7 DX: 810184
DX
27010 Kilkenny

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