Society's News

BLS features in Bristol Post oldest thriving companies in Bristol

Excerpt from the article: How Bristol’s oldest companies are still thriving after more than 100 years in business They include the city’s last-surviving chocolate maker a wine merchant and a tannery. Why do some companies struggle to survive beyond a year while others flourish for hundreds? Although more than 90 per cent of small companies in Britain will survive one … more

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?

BLS Member discount offer on GCHQ certified Social Engineering Course – 8 August

Red Goat Cyber Security are offering Bristol Law Society members a 15% discount on their upcoming GCHQ certified Social Engineering course at Imperial College on the 8th of August. This interactive half-day cyber security course helps you identify and prevent social engineering attacks such as phishing and impersonation by placing you in the position of the hackers to enable you … more


Price Transparency Guidance from the SRA

Ahead of the introduction of new price transparency requirements within the legal sector, we have issued guidance on what price and service information firms must publish on their websites from this December.

As well as explaining firms’ mandatory obligations, the guidance also provides templates and best practice tips on publishing user friendly price and service information for the public.

The new transparency rules, and their expected implementation date, were first announced in June 2018, and confirmed following Legal Services Board approval in August.

Under the rules, all regulated law firms will, from early December, be required to proactively publish information on prices they charge and what these include, across a number of common services:

For members of the public: conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, employment tribunals (claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and immigration (excluding asylum).

For small businesses: debt recovery (up to £100k), employment tribunals (defending claims for unfair or wrongful dismissal) and licensing applications for business premises.

In addition to prices, firms must also outline typical timescales for the quoted services and provide details of the experience and qualifications of staff who work in these areas.

The required information must be published in a prominent location on a firm’s website, which is accessible, clearly signposted and easy for visitors to find. For those without a website, the information must be immediately available in any format for any member of the public who requests it.

Mediators wanted to assist student competition at UWE

The 11th UK Student Mediation Competition will be held at the University of the West of England on 25th and 26th January 2018 in the Business School on the Frenchay campus. UWE looks forward to welcoming up to 20 teams of law students from universities around the UK to take part in the competition. Students will take part in a masterclass run by CEDR on Friday 25th January and then compete in three mediation rounds across Saturday 26th January to win trophies for best UK Team and Best Individual Mediator.

If you are an accredited mediator and would be interested in offering your support to the competition as a judge on Saturday 26th January then we would be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch with Rachel Wood at for further information. We look forward to welcoming mediators from all areas of practice to UWE to lend their valuable expertise in supporting students to develop their mediation skills. This event is highly competitive but also a lot of fun.

Training and refreshments will be provided and judges are also warmly invited to attend the awards dinner in Bristol on the Saturday evening if they wish.

Gary Lightwood, President – Annual Awards Dinner Speech

High Sheriff of Bristol, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the Bristol Law Society’s ninth Annual Awards Dinner.

For the first time, we are sold out this evening – so well done! I think this is an indication of the success of the past Dinners and the increasing enthusiasm for the event and for the opportunity to celebrate what is excellent about the work, PAID AND UNPAID, that we, as a profession, do for and in the community.

My standing here before you as President of BLS has been a long time coming and almost didn’t happen.

From an early age, whilst doing my Law A level, I discovered a sense of justice and fairness and pursued this through Law School at what is now UWE and began my career with a Law Firm here in Bristol.

I had a career hiccup, 8 months into my training contract, I decided to join the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy as an aviator, as one does, but after four short years, I found myself drawn back to the law and returned to Bristol with my now long suffering lovely wife Henrietta in 1995, joining the Bristol branch of Pattinson and Brewer, where I have loyally remained and to whom I am so grateful for their support this year.

I did not become a lawyer for the perceived earning potential – which is probably just as well having spent most of my career in personal injury litigation and family law!

No, what drew me was the desire to achieve justice for those who needed help. To help the small person against the large opponent. Every decision actually making a difference to a person’s life to a greater or lesser extent.

Until recently, the justice system in England and Wales, although not a perfect one, was the envy of the world.

However, times have changed, and this is under threat and not just of course in PI litigation but for many of us in perhaps different ways and of course not just in respect of being able to make a living as a lawyer.

Fundamental access to justice has been eroded. Legal deserts are developing, and Courts are closing, with those that are left massively understaffed but doing their best. Citizen Advice Bureaus have closed and litigants in person are becoming more and more common, creating even more strain on the Courts who again do their best to help un-represented members of the public simply trying to access justice.

Lawyers are feeling the pressure. Elizabeth Rimmer is here with us tonight from LawCare, having kindly agreed to join the judging panel for the Awards this evening – and thank you for that Elizabeth.

I’d like to specifically mention LawCare actually; a Charity which is the excellent and increasingly busy confidential service provided by a team of volunteers with legal backgrounds for lawyers who need assistance and support dealing with these pressures, spanning the legal career from law student to retirement.

The work of a lawyer has never been more demanding.

Obviously, not all lawyers confront the same challenges, but we have all been tarred with the same “fat cat” brush and face a public perception, fuelled by some parts of the media and encouraged by Governments and others that seem to understand the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

My first engagement as President was in fact to sit on a panel hosted by the Legal Services Board to discuss trust in lawyers. Statistics were provided by one of the panel members, one of which was that only a tiny percentage of 18 to 21 – year olds trusted lawyers but that 85% of the over 50’s trusted lawyers. The initial inference was automatically that lawyers are lacking in transparency, resistant to change and in it for themselves.

As the only practising lawyer on the panel, I found myself probably the most vocal that evening, and challenged the interpretation of that statistic. How many 18 – 21 year olds have yet to need to instruct a lawyer? The message I conveyed was that the vast majority of our clients, once they have had the need for our services, value what we do and trust us. Of course, this excellent relationship with our clients never seems to make the news!

It’s all about perception and we must never miss an opportunity to challenge the less well informed or those with an agenda who cast unfair and un-evidenced aspersions upon us and the work we diligently do for our clients.

What would society be without lawyers – rhetorical!

I would suggest that in society, lawyers are a bit like the bass player in my band, Men in Hats. He contributes to the all-important rhythm section but is never really appreciated by the audience. But, they would miss him in the mix if he weren’t there!

It can seem to some that our very nature as lawyers, being tenacious, diligent, loyal and determined, is, in some areas of the legal community, actually being relied upon, perhaps even exploited, to fill the gap in legal services left by the cutbacks; services that are desperately needed by often the most vulnerable.

We lawyers will do what we can to help people, but this seems to be taken for granted by some and in 2018 it cannot be right that charities, such as the Bristol & Avon Law Centre and lawyers working in their spare time or pro bono, bear so much of the responsibility to fill this increasing gap.

That being said, when judging for the pro bono award, which is sponsored by LawCare, I was awe – inspired by the work and selfless initiatives undertaken by our Members and this was a particularly difficult award to judge as all the nominations were so impressive.

I will admit, I have thought about another career in recent years and I know many others have. I have had difficulty with what I have seen as a disregard for access to justice. A disregard for the rule of law and the lawyers who are its custodians.

However, with my involvement with BLS and particularly over this past year as President, I have had the privilege of experiencing and recognising the professionalism, talent and energy of our Members and their commitment to the work that they do for their clients and I have been inspired, to paraphrase one of our greatest wartime leaders, to keep battering on!

So, we must continue to fight to maintain and protect our standards, independence and integrity so fundamental to a fair and robust justice system, essential to any democratic and diverse society.

And I didn’t mention Brexit once…!

As I look around the room tonight and as I have done in recent years, I note that I am no longer one of the youngsters in this profession, I’m not one of the eldest either!

But certainly, I am now one of the elders on the BLS Council! This is good thing. It shows that the next generation care, they want to get involved and make a difference. They want to network, widen their knowledge and appreciation of the legal community and do their bit.

BLS, established in 1770 and celebrating its 250 anniversary in a couple of years, now represents approx. 4,500 Members. It is a member of the Joint V group of local Law Societies, which includes Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds and is also a member of ASWLS, which includes Monmouthshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, Devon and Somerset, Plymouth and Cornwall. Many of their Presidents are here tonight.

This collaboration of local law Societies effectively enables us to promote the interests of 15,000 Members between us and to amplify their voices from a position of numbers to those who seek their views – and even sometimes to those who do not!

But we are listened to as a result of this strength in numbers.

This year, BLS has continued to engage in consultations, has hosted information gathering roundtables and events with the Law Society, the SRA and the LSB and others. We have provided education conferences and social networking events and are now looking to a future collaboration with the wider Bristol and Bath business community to share ideas and promote life and work in our wonderful cities, about which we shout too little and should shout louder!

I will be shot if I do not also mention No12, The Meeting Rooms. After a difficult start to life in our new premises last year, we have spent this year putting the finishing touches to our conference, meeting and mediation suites at our HQ, at 12 Colston Avenue.

Some of you will have already used the facilities and feedback has been extremely positive. If you haven’t already, please do come along and take a look. All these rooms are for hire to the local profession, with some elements covered in the corporate firm package together with member and bulk booking discounts. We are your Law Society so please take advantage of your professionally neutral facilities to host meetings, events and mediations.

I told you this has been a long time coming. I became involved with BLS in 2003 when my then Managing Partner John Davies was the President of Westminster and Holburn at the same time as our very own Chairman, John Moriarty, was President, for the first time, of BLS. The short version of events is that they conspired to recruit me, and the Hotel California clause has applied ever since, “you can never leave”!

Not that I have wanted to. It’s an inspiring place to be

So, if you haven’t already joined the Society or even thought about joining Council, I would invite you to consider it. You might be surprised how relevant, effective and fun it is.

Tonight, is one opportunity when we can feel justified in celebrating and being proud to be part of the legal profession and to recognise those who have shone and achieved extraordinarily in their efforts.

You will see displayed on the screens behind me throughout the evening summaries of the excellent work done by those shortlisted for an award and I look forward to congratulating the winners later.

Some thank yous are in order.

I would like to thank UWE particularly as our lead sponsor for the Dinner, and I look forward to welcoming Noordin Shehabbuddeen from UWE on to the stage shortly to say a few words, but also to thank all our other sponsors and strategic partners for their involvement and support not only with the Dinner but also with the Society throughout the year.

I would like to thank the BLS Council members for their efforts this year and also the BLS staff:

Helen Read , Head of Operations and Clair Ponting, the Events and Membership Coordicator and PA to the President and Executive Committee who have worked miracles to provide tonight’s celebration and also throughout the year holding the ship steady and most definitely on course.

John Moriarty, our Chairman, who’s partly responsible for my BLS journey, for his ongoing dedication to the Society and for the support he has given me personally.

Ceri Beveridge, our Event Organiser for her excellent work, yet again with the Dinner, in helping bring everything together tonight. Her work is far from done!

Justin Potter – Daniels of JPD Productions and his team
Our technical wizard for tonight’s sound and lighting and for his help and patience with my video!

And of course, thanks to you – the members, corporate and individual, for your continued support in helping BLS remain as one of the leading local Law Societies in the country.

In closing, I would like to explain the bike theme and the large motorcycle you will have seen when you arrived this evening, which belongs to my chosen charity for this year, the Freewheelers, AKA “Bloodbikes”.

Run entirely by volunteers, this national charity is known as “the unseen 999 service”. It’s a service from which any of us could and may already have benefited without even knowing it.

Tonight is an opportunity for us all to help the bloodbikes with their important work and to tell you more, I am very pleased to introduce to you in a moment, Mr Richard Reeves, the Fundraising manager for this region’s Bloodbikes.

From me, that’s a wrap. It’s been an honour.

Thank you.



UWE – The Bristol Distinguished Address Series – Autumn Schedule

This series of free public lectures brings top level business leaders to Bristol.

The full schedule for 2018-19 is now available.

Bookings are now open for Ruth Hunt, CEO Stonewall on Achieving Social Change  Book here

If you have any queries please contact

Discuss these events on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolLectures


Calling all family lawyers! HMCTS court reform – participants required

To ensure the court reform programme works for you, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is undertaking research into financial remedy processes and video hearings.

We encourage you to participate in these research sessions as they provide a good opportunity to have your say in the development of HMCTS’s services.

Financial remedy processes

Preferred participants: family practitioners dealing with divorce and financial remedies.

Research aims:

  • Understand the current processes professional users go through for consented/contested financial remedy.
  •  Understand what does and doesn’t work and how the process can be improved.
  • To test digital prototypes.

If you are interested in taking part in this research please contact

Video hearings

Preferred participants: civil, family, crime and tribunals practitioners within commercial, public sector and third sector organisations.

Research aims:

  • Understand what the experience of getting ready for a video hearing, prior to the day, needs to be.
  • Understand what the on-the-day video hearing experience needs to be like for legal professionals.
  • Understand the support needs of legal professionals using video hearings.

Understand what does and doesn’t work and how the process can be improved.
If you are interested in taking part please contact

BLS Annual Awards Dinner Winners 2018

Congratulations to all those shortlisted nominees who attended our dinner last night but our most particular congratulations to the winners of the awards!

We hope all our guests had an enjoyable evening and thank you again for all you support of Bristol Law Society.

The winners in each category were:

Law Student of the Year
Xavier Baker, UWE

Support Team Member of the Year
Evi Economou, Avon & Bristol Law Centre

Junior Lawyer of the Year
Barbara Likulunga, Avon & Bristol Law Centre

Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year
Phillip Chivers, Osborne Clarke

CSR Firm of the Year
DAC Beachcroft

Chambers of the Year
St John’s Chambers

Lawyer of the Year
Robin Denford, Civil Advocacy Team, Bristol City Council

Team of the Year
VWV Approach

Law Firm of the Year (Under 15 Partners)
Kelcey & Hall

Law Firm of the Year (Over 15 Partners)
Osborne Clarke

President’s Outstanding Achievement Award
Andrew Langdon QC


How to embed sustainability in your organisation workshop with LSA and Burges Salmon – 7th November



Book your free place via Eventbrite here

Seeking Deeds of Burke & Co

Do you know the whereabouts of Deeds belonging to the former Burke & Co?  One of their former clients is trying to trace the Deeds to her property that she bought 20 years.  If you know the whereabouts of the Deeds of Burke & Co, please contact Clair Ponting of Bristol Law Society on 0117 9458486 or email so that we can help this lady.

JLT Roundtable Invitation – How to Survive an SRA Investigation






Insights into the investigation and prosecution of Leigh Day

Since September 2014, human rights law firm Leigh Day has been the subject of a high profile investigation and prosecution by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), in connection with the Al-Sweady Inquiry.

JLT is pleased to be holding a series of roundtables with Gideon Habel and Emma Walker, Associates in Leigh Day’s Regulatory & Disciplinary practice, who acted as the firm’s in-house legal team throughout the investigation and prosecution of the firm. They will be sharing their experiences of and insights into the case and some lessons for firms engaging with the SRA.

The roundtables are aimed at Managing Partners, Compliance Officers and those involved in the regulatory governance of law firms and will:

  • Provide a unique insight into the case against Leigh Day;
  • Outline the steps the firm took to respond to the SRA and defend the prosecution;
  • Explain the firm’s insurance coverage;
  • Look at the costs of defending the allegations;
  • Outline the scope of SRA’s appeal of the SDT’s decision;
  • Discuss developments in the insurance market for regulatory defence work.

The roundtables will be held under the Chatham House Rule to encourage lively discussions.

Space will be limited, so please book early.

Register Here

The events will be held across the country at different locations from October to November 2018.

Manchester 16 Oct
Leeds 17 Oct
London 18 Oct
Cardiff 6 Nov
Bristol 7 NovBristol Law Society, 12 Colston Avenue, BS1 4ST
Birmingham 8 Nov
Cambridge 13 Nov
Swindon 15 Nov

If you have any questions regarding the event, please contact

Matthew Baker
JLT Specialty





HHJ Wildblood September Newsletter

Please see attached Newsletter and consultation document on filing and issuing of orders. The consultation ends 1st October 2018.