Society's News

The President’s Charity of the Year 2017/18

                      Please see Freewheelers Leaflet 2017 for the fabulous work these volunteer riders undertake to assist the NHS in moving vital supplies and equipment  around the county. Who knows which one of us or someone we know may have already benefited from their amazing work?

Welcome from BLS President 2017/18 – Gary Lightwood

                    Gary Lightwood is the Managing Partner of Pattinson & Brewer Solicitors’ Bristol office. During his career he has specialised in personal injury litigation, clinical negligence and family law. A former Officer in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, Gary then qualified as a Solicitor in 1996 after joining … more

BLS Conference and Meeting Room Suites Room Hire Information

Bristol Law Society’s suite of conference and meeting rooms are conveniently located in the centre between the Waterfront Area and the Old City in a modern building situated on the corner of Colston Avenue and St Stephen’s Avenue.  There are a number of large public car parks within a 5 minute walk from the rooms. For full information on our … more


Wessex Searches Update on CON29DW





Request your free copy of Your Conveyancer’s Guide to the CON29DW Drainage and Water Enquiry Second Edition

At Wessex Searches, we know that the results of their drainage and water search is unlikely to be at the forefront of your client’s mind when they instruct you to carry out the conveyancing on their dream home.

Nevertheless, the Law Society’s CON29DW Drainage and Water Enquiry is an essential part of the residential conveyancing process.

It plays a critical role in helping you to ensure that you identify any drainage and water matters that may impact on your client’s costs or future liabilities. It also helps you identify any drainage and water constraints that could restrict or impact your client’s freedom to extend or alter their property.

The results of a CON29DW could elicit potentially deal-breaking information.

In our work with property professionals, we have been repeatedly told of a desire to be better equipped in the understanding and interpretation of the CON29DW.

You want to understand how and why the questions and answers in the CON29DW Enquiry are important to you and your clients.

That’s why we’ve created this Conveyancer’s Guide to the CON29DW.

Our guide will:

  • Help you understand and interpret the CON29DW Drainage and Water Enquiry questions
  • Illustrate where helpful the context and reasoning behind the questions
  • Explain the implications of answers you may receive
  • Provide examples of important details to look out for
  • Highlight certain risk areas
  • Provide a guide to commonly used water and sewerage industry terminology.

In our opinion, the CON29DW is the most comprehensive and reliable way for conveyancing professionals to protect homebuyers from a range of drainage and water risks, which could impact on the value, title and future maintenance costs of a property. It offers a clear trail of responsibility back to the water company and gives you and your client peace of mind.

The key to getting the best out of the CON29DW Enquiry is your understanding and interpretation of the search results you receive.

To order your free copy of ‘Your Conveyancer’s Guide to the CON29DW Drainage and Water Enquiry Second Edition’, visit our website today at:



The Law Society Business Review 2017

As the professional body for solicitors, every week the Law Society is working hard to influence the legal and regulatory environment on behalf of our profession and to promote solicitors at home and abroad. We support practice excellence, are an informed source of legal sector news and support members at every stage of their career.

Delivering for our members – our Business review
Today we published Delivering for our members – The Law Society’s Business review for 2017, highlighting the wide range of our activity. A copy is attached for you.

Last year we set out the member needs we wanted to address. Some things we do on behalf of the whole profession, others are to meet specific member needs and challenges.

During a year of significant developments, we have made great progress with the work we do and the review highlights just some of our key achievements and examples of the impact we have had.

Joe Egan, President, The Law Society

LAW6543 Business Review 2017_Digital_AW

Law Commision – Consultation on Youth Sentencing

The Law Commission has launched a short consultation on youth sentencing as part of its work to create a single Sentencing Code.

Over the past three years the Commission has consulted widely on plans to make sentencing simpler, fairer and quicker through the introduction of a consolidated Code.

A small number of youth sentencing laws had previously been omitted from public consultation exercises while the Ministry of Justice Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales was taking place.

Following its publication, a new five-week long supplementary consultation has today been launched in order to ensure that all provisions in the draft Bill receive public scrutiny.

Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said:
“People want and expect clarity and transparency when the courts sentence offenders, but judges face an increasingly tough task when doing so.
“A single Sentencing Code clearly makes sense. It will make sentencing simpler, cut court waiting times and help make sure people get the justice they deserve.
“And now by including more of youth sentencing we’re making sure it is as comprehensive as it can be. We welcome views.”

Youth sentencing additions
In July 2017 the Law Commission began a 6-month public consultation on plans for a Sentencing Code, meeting over 1,400 lawyers, policymakers and judges in the process.

The main consultation paper dealt with certain provisions applicable to youths such as committals for sentence, remittal to the youth court, various forms of detention and the general provisions applicable to children and young persons under the age of 18.

But certain provisions were deliberately omitted from that consultation and draft Bill to await the Ministry of Justice Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales. Once that review concluded, work continued on the youth justice provisions.

Now the Law Commission is consulting on the redrafting of:
• Referral Orders
• Reparation Orders
• Orders capable of being imposed upon parents or guardians consequent on a finding of guilt in relation to a child or young person for whom they have parental responsibility
• Youth Rehabilitation Orders
• Detention and Training Orders

The Commission also asks a number of consultation questions on specific proposed technical amendments to the provisions.

The consultation closes 27 April 2018.

Further information
The Law Commission is proposing a new Sentencing Code which would:
• help stop unlawful sentences by providing a single reference point for the law of sentencing, simplify many complex provisions and remove the need to refer to historic legislation;
• save up to £255million over the next decade by avoiding unnecessary appeals and reducing delays in sentencing clogging up the court system;
• rewrite the law in modern language, improving public confidence and allowing non-lawyers to understand sentencing more easily; and
• allow judges to use the modern sentencing powers for both current and historic cases, making cases simpler to deal with and ensuring justice is better served.
However, the Sentencing Code would not:
• alter the maximum sentences for criminal offences;
• subject any offender to a harsher penalty than that which could have been imposed at the time of their offence;
• extend minimum sentencing provisions or create new minimum sentences;
• reduce judicial discretion; or
• replace sentencing guidelines or the work of the Sentencing Council.

View the consultation

Movers and Shakers!

Top employment lawyer joins Wards Solicitors








With more than 15 years’ experience in her specialist area, the former Burroughs Day partner has joined Wards as a consultant to develop its employment law service for businesses and individuals.

Highly recommended

Julia has a formidable reputation in Bristol. Renowned for her tenacity and robust approach to contentious workplace problems, her workload comes mostly by personal recommendation from a legion of satisfied clients.


She is a Notable Practitioner in Chambers legal directory which describes her as “incredibly knowledgeable and easy to work with.”

Julia acts for clients in all walks of life, from minimum-waged workers to high-profile professionals, directors and senior managers in both public and private sectors.

Helping solve workplace problems

“What gets me out of bed every morning is the satisfaction of knowing I can help people solve their workplace problems,” says Julia. “It might be getting compensation for a woman suffering sexual harassment or maternity discrimination, advising a whistleblower of his rights, or helping an employer deal with equal pay or a difficult disciplinary issue.

“Workplace issues affect people profoundly – most of us spend most of our time at work. Now that individu


als can issue claims in the Employment Tribunals without paying a fee, it is also a very busy time for employment lawyers.”

Experienced and approachable

People choose Julia not just for her expertise in all areas of employment law but also for her strong record in negotiating exit agreements. Previously a London journalist, she is highly sensitive to the media implications of legal issues including reputational damage to businesses.

But don’t be put off by Julia’s experience: “I’m always happy to have an initial chat with anyone with workplace issues,” she says. “It doesn’t cost anything to pick up the phone and talk things over with me”.

David Sheridan, Managing Partner at Wards Solicitors, adds: “Julia Beasley has an excellent reputation in the field of Employment Law and we are delighted to welcome her to the team. This strengthens our specialist Employment Law offering immensely.”

LSB approves framework for SRA’s new admission requirements for solicitors

Press Release from LSB 27 March 2018

The Legal Services Board (LSB), in accordance with its statutory powers has approved the application of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for amendments to its regulatory arrangements in respect of its authorisation of individuals. The approval is based on the statutory criteria set out in the Legal Services Act 2007.

This approval provides the framework upon which the SRA Board can seek to introduce new requirements for anyone wishing to qualify as a solicitor, including a requirement for individuals to pass a centralised assessment. It has been made following a thorough consideration of the application and the numerous submissions received in response to it including that of the Justice Select Committee.

The introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) does not automatically follow from today’s approval. The SRA will have to submit and the LSB will have to approve further rules change applications. Approval of this application does not mean any further rule changes will be approved. This will be a new and separate assessment of the rules needed to bring the SQE into effect. The SRA expects to apply to the LSB in 2019 for approval of these further rules, which will contain detail on its proposals for implementing the SQE.

Legal Services Board Chief Executive, Neil Buckley said:

“We have today agreed the first stage of the SRA’s reforms to its qualification processes.
The changes that the SRA wishes to make are significant and stakeholders have identified a range of associated risks. We assessed the current approved application thoroughly with these risks in mind and concluded that there are no grounds for refusing this application.
The approval of this application on its own is not sufficient to allow the SQE to be implemented. The SRA will need to make and we will need to approve further rules changes to give effect to the requirement to pass a centralised exam. When considering these further rules and deciding whether to agree with them, the LSB will expect to see more detail from the SRA – particularly on how the SQE will operate, what it will cost and the likely diversity impacts.”

Miller Insights – What is GDPR and what does it mean for law firms?

Tougher new data privacy rules come into effect in May. Law firms need to act now and consider buying a cyber policy.

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect across the European Union on May 25. It replaces the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) – and will bring data privacy up to date in the digital age. Brexit will not affect the new regulation as the government has confirmed it will fully incorporate it into UK law.

GDPR will give people stronger rights to access information that is held on them and requires organisations to manage that data better.

Will GDPR affect me?
Yes, it affects every organisation that either “controls” or “processes” data. If you’re subject to the Data Protection Act then you’ll be subject to GDPR, so it’s important to know what impact it will have.

What’s new with GDPR?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data privacy watchdog, is frustrated at the “scaremongering” about the new rules’ impact. GDPR is only a step change, it says, insisting it’s an evolution, not a revolution in data protection.
“It seems a much bigger task than it actually is,” says Duncan Finlyson, a director of Infolegal, which provides compliance advice and training for solicitors. “Most firms will already be in compliance with large parts of GDPR, otherwise they wouldn’t already be in compliance with the DPA or the SRA’s Code of Conduct.”
However, Julia Tutin, Client Adviser at Miller warns law firms against complacency. “The new regulation requires organisations to have better data privacy procedures or risk punishment.”

The biggest changes are:

A person must give their explicit consent for their information to be held, defined as being “freely given, specific, informed and [an] unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes.” Implied consent, such as from pre-ticked boxes, is no longer good enough.
Consent must be verifiable, so a record of it must be kept. Also, information can only be used for the purposes for which consent has been given. So, a law firm cannot send clients marketing material unless they have agreed. People can also withdraw consent at any time. (more…)

Women in Law-largest ever survey on gender equality in legal profession

The largest international survey of women in the law has been released by the Law Society of England and Wales, shedding light on the road to gender equality in the legal profession.

“People working in law across the world have spoken out about the challenges the profession faces in achieving gender equality,” said Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws.

“I am a passionate believer in equality. Where there is inequality, I will not flinch from tackling it. I know I’m not alone in this – justice, fairness and the rule of law are what drew most of us to the legal profession.

“Unconscious bias in the legal profession was the most commonly identified barrier to career progression for women, while flexible working was seen as a remedy by an overwhelming 91% of respondents to our survey.

“Interestingly while half of all respondents said they thought there had been progress on gender equality over the last five years there was a significant difference in perception by gender with 74% of men reporting progress in gender equality compared to only 48% of women.”

Key figures:

  • 7,781 people responded to the Law Society’s Women in the Law survey
    (5,758 women, 554 men and 1,469 unknown or other)
  • 74% of men and 48% of women reported progress on gender equality in the last 5 years
    (overall 50%)
  • Main barriers to career progression perceived as:
    • Unconscious bias (52%)
    • However, only 11% said unconscious bias training is consistently carried out in their organisation
    • Unacceptable work/life balance demanded to reach senior levels (49%)
    • Traditional networks/routes to promotion are male orientated (46%)
    • Current resistance to flexible working practices (41%)
    • 91% of respondents said flexible working is critical to improving diversity
    • 52% work in an organisation where flexible working is in place
    • 60% are aware of gender pay gap in their place of work
    • Only 16% see visible steps taken to address gender pay gap

Christina Blacklaws concluded: “With our women in leadership programme, the Law Society is committed to giving women and men in law the tools to make positive changes towards gender equality.

“Every law firm, lawyer and client will benefit from greater equality in our places of work. I believe the justice system will also be stronger if the legal professions better reflects the values we uphold.”

Please see Women in Law Infographic for a summary of the findings.



JLD Forum Report


On Saturday 10 March 2018 Bristol Junior Lawyers Division hosted the JLD’s Forum for trainees and NQs at BPP Law School in Queen Square. The turnout was fantastic with many local junior lawyers giving up their Saturday.

The JLD hold a number of events throughout the country each year with the aim of providing useful sessions for its members to help them advance their careers.

The event covered a wide array of topics and welcomed a variety of speakers from the Bristol legal community. The day started with a session on costs from Lucy Baldwin, head of commercial litigation costs at Paragon Costs with tips on how to maximise costs recovery.

Next up was Natasha Dzameh of St John’s Chambers, BLS’s barrister of the year 2017 who delivered a talk on how build good relationships with counsel. The talk included a list of counsel’s pet peeves when it comes to receiving instructions (never send a broken folder!) before Natasha opened up the floor to pet peeves solicitors have about barristers.

The afternoon session commenced with horror stories from Michael Murray of Brunel Professions about the negligence risks faced by law firms. Thankfully Michael was able to include a ray of hope at the end of his talk and tips on what junior lawyers need to do to avoid negligence claims from the outset.

The next session was a panel covering the topic of moving firms after qualification. The panel consisted Gishan Abeyatne of BCL Legal, Coralie McKeivor of Foot Anstey and Helen Hancock of Simmons and Simmons LLP who were able to give a range on different perspectives on the benefits and pitfalls of moving firms after qualification.

The penultimate session of the day was delivered by Tony Anderson and Simon Martin of Anderson Financial Management. The session focussed on what junior lawyers should be aware of at various stages of their careers, when planning for their future financial security.

The final session of the day was delivered by Leon Smith of DAC Beachcroft LPP on the benefits of getting involved in your local law society.











For full details of future Bristol JLD events please sign up to our mailing list here.


UWE Distinguished Address Series Spring Lectures






We are delighted to be partnering with UWE Distinguished Address Series in 2017/18.

We look forward to seeing you at lectures from some of the most respected figures in British business.

The events are free and open to all but pre-registration for each event is required and will open four weeks prior to each event. Opening dates are listed on the respective web page for each event.

Registration will open for the spring lectures on 10 January 2018.  Please select BLS in the section ‘where did you hear about us’ on the registration form.

If you’re a twitter user you can tweet about the event using the #BristolLectures or retweet any of our tweets @UWEEvents.

Previous speakers podcasts can be viewed at

You can find details of all the upcoming lectures and booking information here

Bookings are now open for the final lecture in the Spring Series to hear Tim Parker, Chairman of The Post Office 




New Genealogist Practice Launches – Kin Probate






With a wealth of legal experience behind it, Kin Probate offers its clients exceptional service and a commitment to create a long-term reciprocal relationship; hence its slogan, ‘a connection to trust’.

Founded by solicitor James Gartland, formerly of Halliwells LLP and Weightmans, James knows first-hand what solicitors look for when it comes to choosing an expert.

With his new project Kin Probate, he wants to adopt a transparent, different and more trusting approach for his clients, so that all parties are better informed. Local solicitors may recognise James from his previous involvement in Bristol Law Society private client conferences.

Having always had an interest in the world of business, James wants to challenge the traditional southern-based firms and become the genealogist of choice for solicitors and the public sector using the unique simplified service of ‘Kin: Search’, ‘Kin: Verify’ and ‘Probate: Resolution’. Kin Probate offers a free initial assessment and a range of fee options tailored to the case.

In addition to his legal background, James is an active member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is an accredited Expert Witness.
Keen to make a difference and tackle a variety of issues, James has been instrumental in recently organising a social clean-up of a riverside environment, with plastic waste and its environmental impact on the coastlines being a current hot topic.

Kin Probate has recently welcomed Michaela Hulme, a professional genealogist and course leader in History at Manchester Metropolitan University to enhance the firm’s offering. With big ambition, experience and capability it won’t be long before Kin Probate becomes the go-to firm for intestate deaths and more.

For further information about Kin Probate, please contact Jo Leah at or call 07770 886936.