Sara Staite was called to the Bar in 1979. She joined chambers at 2 Harcourt Buildings (formerly the chambers of Roger Henderson KC) following the completion of her pupillage at Six Pump Court with Stephen Hockman KC.
Sara did a number of complex criminal trials (including rape and serious assault cases) while a tenant in chambers but her principal area of expertise was complex family work which included private law cases involving the permanent removal of children overseas and custody disputes (as they were known at the time). Sara also developed a speciality in matrimonial finance and acquired a wide range of professional clients. The scope of her practice extended to applications made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants’ Act) 1975, applications relating to the financial rights of cohabitees following separation and applications for financial provision for children made under the Children Act 1989.
In 2000 Sara was offered a tenancy at 1 Kings Bench Walk, one of the best sets in the country specialising in family law. During her 10 years at 1 Kings Bench Walk, Sara specialised in family law (particularly but not exclusively in matrimonial finance) and advised a number of high profile clients in big money cases. Sara also trained as a family law mediator in around 2003. Sara also continued working part-time as a Recorder in the criminal and family courts having been appointed as a full-time recorder in 2000 and an Assistant Recorder in 1996 (at the age of 38).
In 2010 Sara was appointed as a Circuit Judge and was later also invited to sit in Chelmsford County Court and tried several landlord and tenant disputes and significant number of personal injury claims. Sara was also initially appointed to Chelmsford Crown Court to sit for 3 months each year and sat in this capacity until 2012. During this period, Sara tried several long criminal trials involving (by way of example) insurance fraud and drug smuggling. However the majority of her sitting time was in the Family Court dealing with the volume and complexity of final hearings which involved (in the main) sanctioning the permanent removal of children from the care of their parents.
In 2016 Sara was transferred from Chelmsford to East London Family Court where she remained until her retirement from the Bench in September 2022.
Sara was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2019 and heard several High Court matters including Deprivation of Liberty Orders in respect of vulnerable teenagers and complex fact-finding hearings involving, by way of example, factitious illness/ non-accidental injury. Many of her decisions made at East London Family Court were appealed to the Court of Appeal but none of the appeals were successful.
Following her retirement from full-time sitting Sara has been authorised to sit in retirement. She has already decided several cases between October and December 2022 and continues to use the availability of her time now to assist in reducing the backlog of family cases which has arisen during the course of the last few years. Sara has also accepted an invitation to sit as chair on the Bar Disciplinary Tribunal.
2022 – Appointed as Bar Disciplinary Tribunal Chair
2019 – Appointed Deputy High Court Judge
2010 – Appointed Circuit Judge
2003 – Qualified as a Family Law Mediator
2000 – Appointed Full-Time Recorder
1996 – Appointed as Assistant Recorder