Norman Hartnell studied Law at Cambridge University and has spent over 30 years specialising in Family Law, qualifying as a Solicitor in 1979 and as one of the country’s first family mediators in 1989. He established one of the country’s first specialist Family Law Practices, Hartnell & Co in 1991 and the Devon Family Mediation Agency Limited (now Devon Family Solutions) – one of the first mediation consortiums in the country with a Legal Services Commission franchise. He has overseen the growth of the business and its transformation into The Family Law Company by Hartnell Chanot of which he is Managing Director.

Norman has served on numerous Resolution and Court committees, is experienced in all forms of family mediation and is authorised to consult with children as part of his mediation practice. He has represented parents, guardians and children in private and public law cases. He has considerable experience in complex divorce and related financial issues, and was the Secretary and Mediation representative for the Peninsula Family Justice Council active in promoting interdisciplinary training throughout its existence. He was the first solicitor in the South West and one of the very first in the country to qualify as an Arbitrator authorised to conduct Arbitrations in both Financial and Children issues.

I am exceedingly grateful for today and I am delighted with the outcome. I can now for the first time in two and a half years see a shining light at the end of the tunnel. I have felt trapped in a void and not known which way to turn. I understand that the only way to move forward is by being measured, fair, balanced and reasonable. I have tried this in the past but have been unsuccessful. Thank you so much for your time, generosity and ‘human’ approach to my current situation. It is such a relief that we can finally have some peace. Thank you very much again.

Norman is a pioneer in changing the face of family law. He promotes a problem solving approach and leads the way in constructive methods of resolving family disputes whilst at all times keeping children at the centre and protecting the vulnerable.

Norman is a Solicitor, Mediator, Collaborative Family Lawyer and Arbitrator.

Photography is a big passion for Norman in his spare time, especially on the beautiful rolling hills of Dartmoor. To see Norman’s pictures, you can follow him on Twitter @norman_hartnell

Relevant Experience

  • Acting for wife suffering from cancer whose husband had concealed a substantial pension and had persuaded her before she instructed us to accept a low lump sum. It was only when we investigated his financial circumstances that his pension came to light. He then argued that the wife should have a low lump sum because of her illness. We succeeded in obtaining a significant pension sharing order which enabled the wife to immediately have access to substantial funds. The case was reported in the law reports.
  • Acting for a father whose wife removed their daughter to a different part of the country and put many obstacles in the way of contact. Over a period of time and several hearings, an outcome was achieved which saw the child placed with the father permanently.
  • Representing a mother who had previously been poorly represented previously. This had resulted in the court making erroneous assessments and overlooking her concerns about a father who represented a risk to her and the child. Despite the passage of time and the intervening decisions of the court we were able to overturn the original basis of the court’s error on appeal to the High Court. This case was reported in the law reports.
  • Representing a local businessman in relation to both financial and children issues involving complex financial matters and a mother who employed a variety of tactics to frustrate his relationship with his daughter. He was extremely pleased with the financial outcome secured and now enjoys a close relationship with his daughter, spending significant periods of time with her each week.
  • Representing a wife whose husband had defrauded the revenue. The case involved a contest between the husband, representatives of the children, the wife and the Inland Revenue which was reported in the law reports on two occasions. The husband – having lost all his assets to the Inland Revenue – then obtained an inheritance which I was able to freeze and secure for the wife.


  • Member of the Law Society Children Panel from 1988 to 2008
  • Accredited Mediator
  • FMA/Resolution  Supervisor/Trainer
  • Private and Legal Aid qualified mediator for All Issues Mediation including Child Consultation
  • Collaborative Family Lawyer
  • Family Law Arbitrator
  • Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Member of Resolution
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