Society's News

Corporate Members 2020

3PB Albion Chambers Ashfords Barcan + Kirby Burges Salmon Clarke Willmott Cooke Painter Ltd Clyde & Co DAC Beachcroft Devereux & Co Enterprise Chambers The Family Law Practice Foot Anstey (including Enable Law) Fussell Wright Gregg Latchams Ltd Guildhall Chambers Irwin Mitchell Solicitors Kelcey & Hall Lyons Davidson Marc White & Co Meade King Michelmores LLP MS Rubric Osborne Clarke … more

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

No 12, The Meeting Rooms – Conference, Meeting and Mediation Rooms for Hire

Please note that the BLS office is shut to members at present as we continue to work from home during the pandemic. We can be contacted on In the meantime, our office is now operating as the Bristol Nightingale Court and accordingly, we are unable to hire out our facilities until further notice. (Oct 2020) Bristol Law Society’s suite … more


Obituary – Matt Ashley, Osborne Clarke

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of  Matt Ashley of Osborne Clarke over the Christmas period, shortly after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.












Matt was a hugely valued member of the residential development team at Osborne Clarke and at Clarke Willmott before that. He was well-known and well-liked throughout the Bristol legal community, where he had many friends amongst his current and former colleagues.

Matt generously shared his time and expertise with a range of industry and charitable organisations. He held leadership positions with The Institute of Residential Property Management and used his property management expertise to help develop community-led housing in Bristol as well as helping The Scouts manage their property portfolio.

Our thoughts are very much with Matt’s wife, children and wider family at this sad time.

Osborne Clarke have set up a book of remembrance for Matt and BLS members who knew Matt are welcome to contribute to it.

There is also a remembrance fundraising page in aid of Bowel Cancer UK


WECA Recovery Taskforce Update

Outputs from the WECA taskforce meeting pre-Christmas which puts a bit more flesh on some of the key focus areas and the progress being made.

Taskforce presentation – 15.12.20

Taskforce – additional slides – 15.12.20

WECA support for business and residents



WECA Recovery Taskforce

Please see attached outputs from the WECA Recovery Taskforce which members may find useful:

WECA support for business and residents

Taskforce presentation – 15.12.20

Taskforce – additional slides – 15.12.20

The Legacy of Coal Mining






With less reliance on fossil fuels and a drive towards more sustainable energy, it seems the life span for coal as an energy source is diminishing around the world. In fact, an article*1 in the Observer newspaper questioned whether we are facing the imminent end of Coal as an energy source in Britain.

Looking back through history, UK coal production was around 70 million tonnes a year in the mid-18th century and grew to a peak of just under 300 million tonnes by 1913 according to the UK Government figures.  Residential use of the fossil fuel has however largely ended and just eight million tonnes was reportedly used by UK industry in 2019, with only two million supplied from UK sources.

Today, UK mining has virtually stopped, having fallen from 3,000 mines at the peak to just 13 now, with coal representing approximately five per cent of overall annual energy usage.

From the heights of the industrial era, coal production instead leaves behind a significant and long-lasting legacy.  Ground stability poses a real hazard for properties located over or even near mine workings for decades to come and is important to consider when transacting properties.

In 2019*2, almost a quarter of all residential property transactions were located in coal affected areas. On top of this, over 10 million properties across GB are said to be located in a coalfield area, meaning lawyers have a duty of care for clients – and the lender if a mortgage is involved – to ensure related risks are investigated, to limit future claims against professional indemnity.

I spoke to Phil Huddleston MRICS, a Director of PinPoint Coal Ltd and former Head of Mining Information at the Coal Authority to discuss what lawyers need to consider when undertaking ground stability due diligence on property transactions:

“Mining coal below the ground can cause subsidence. With deep mining this lowering of the surface takes place over a relatively short period of time. This can manifest itself as tension or compression strains resulting in damage to buildings or quite simply a lowering of the surface and no damage at all. Shallower workings do not consolidate in the same way and the impact of these can continue for much longer, representing a continued present-day risk.

“Looking specifically at Bristol and Somerset coalfield, what we have here is a very old and long serving coalfield. Here, we have examples of mining dating right back to Roman times and with production finally winding up by the early 1960’s.

“Although the mining has stopped, it has left behind lots of potential problems that home owners and developers need to be aware of.

“For example, old mine shafts have the potential to collapse causing sudden and severe damage, or old shallow workings can collapse causing crown holes at the surface and resultant subsidence damage.    With the extent of mining in Bristol, the area is not immune to these risks and so makes coal mining relevant today.

“What is important to note that the area affected at the surface by mining activities is much greater than the area of coal itself, which people are often unaware of.  We call this the ‘Zone of Influence’ (ZOI) and determining the ZOI is a complex three-dimensional calculation based upon the depth and slope of the workings, together with the surface terrain.

“Due to the multiple angles, directions and depths often involved, it is not sufficient to simply create a ‘buffer’ around a mine. These complex calculations are important and take into account a huge amount of data, which enables us to assess related ground stability risks with a very high degree of accuracy.”

Obtaining a Coal Mining Report enables prospective purchasers to be made aware of the risks and in this particular case to see whether there is any history of damage – including where a claim has been made, or even been rejected.

The new Landmark Coal Mining Report – powered by PinPoint – provides all the standard answers required by the Law Society together with (as appendices) additional information about mine entries and claims when they are reported. The reports are supported by professional opinion from Chartered Minerals Surveyors.

While coal mining may be largely condemned to the history books, its after-effects leave behind a lasting legacy that certainly means it shall not be forgotten, and cannot be ignored.

Allie Parsons, Customer Success Consultant, Landmark Information (Legal)


  1. Landmark Information Group data: Over 10 million properties across GB are situated in a coalfield area – this equates to 27.4% of all properties in Great Britain. In 2019, 23% of property transactions took place in a coal affected area according to transaction data analysed by Landmark Information Group.


Has your software supplier been taken over? Should you stay or should you go?


Has your software supplier been taken over? Should you stay or should you go?

Software supplier takeovers are nothing new. In the legal sector, they have been happening for years and although they levelled off for a period, they have ramped up in volume recently, as documented in legal news headlines. Because of this, there are fewer independent software suppliers in the marketplace now than ever. But what exactly is the implication for you, as an end software user, if your supplier is not independent and has been subject to acquisition or consolidation?

Having repeatedly witnessed and lived through what happens in these situations both behind the scenes and on the front line, Deborah Witkiss at Insight Legal strongly advises against apathy, invites you to benefit from her extensive experience and explains in layman’s terms the recurring pattern of M&A activity so that, if it happens, you can enter the fray with your eyes wide open, know how it will affect you, understand your options and make the right decisions for your business.

There are five trends of the takeover process, these being:

  1. False ‘no change’ promises

It is in your supplier’s interests to pacify you in the early stages. They will make convincing pledges that nothing will change, it is business as usual, and the best and safest thing you can do is remain just where you are. It is even possible you may be told that this is the only option available to you.

None of this is true. Changes are inevitable. Going forwards, there will be stark contrasts from the past. What you know in the present is not what you know in the future. The choicest course of action could be to bid farewell to your supplier and extend a hearty welcome to someone new.

  1. Relationships will dwindle

Amongst the aforementioned promises are continuation of backup service delivery. While you will still receive account management and technical support, the people delivering these services to you are unlikely to be the individuals you have forged professional relationships with. Ultimately, it is the people you buy into when first making your software purchase. No longer having access to these self-same people places a big question mark over the software itself.

The reason for these personnel changes being when two (or any number of) companies amalgamate, streamlining exercises will be carried out. Rather than maintaining multiple teams performing the same roles for different systems, there will be a string of redundancies resulting in fewer staff and unfamiliar faces.

The impact is the necessity to foster new relationships and deterioration of quality of support provision overall. You could be moved onto call centre-type support. Worryingly, it might be that you know more about your software than the employees managing your account and assisting with your technical queries.

  1. Software will become stagnant or given end-of-life notice

Picking up on the point made in #2, will the original software development team be preserved or will they become victims of internal reorganisation too? Losing these key staff means that individuals who are simply not conversant in your software will be responsible for its development instead or, worse still, development could be reduced or even halted completely, with your product ‘sunsetted’ or switched to ‘sustained engineering’.

This is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Your software will either (1) become stagnant because development priorities are focused elsewhere or (2) made end-of-life in order to migrate users to the acquiring supplier’s application. This disintegration of ongoing development efforts happens surprisingly quickly.

Stagnation is a major worry as constant regulatory and legal reforms will not be catered for with functionality enhancements or additions. When you consider some of the reforms introduced over the last few years alone – such as Making Tax Digital requirements for VAT, revised SRA Accounts Rules, anti-money laundering and data protection legislation – you can begin to appreciate the gravitas of slowed-down or halted development. There are also security threats posed by under-developed software because no bug fixes means that cybersecurity is weakened. As such, your exposure to risk of compliance breaches and cyberattacks is dramatically heightened. You’re stuck with a product that is going nowhere fast.

Expiration is equally troubling as these arrangements are enforced without consultation and reasonable timescale. By applying urgency, your supplier is ensuring you do not have sufficient leniency to go to market, undertake research on other potential suppliers and their software offerings, and allow for implementation before your contract comes to an abrupt end. Suddenly, migration seems the only way forward with all of its consequent escalating fees.

  1. Making money is the topmost motive

Let’s be crude here. Acquisitive suppliers are ambitious for growth. Their concentration is fixated entirely on turnover figures. They have investors or equity backers to satisfy and acquisition costs to recoup. Business strategy is driven wholly by finances. Numbers are the sole objective. There is a distinct lack of customer-centric values. As the end user of this type of finance-obsessed supplier, you are as far removed from strategic undertakings as it is possible to be.

Egotistical businesses do not care about what is fitting for you. Increasing prices, reducing costs, pushing you towards a software upgrade you have not asked for, doing everything in their power to make more money and supporting you in a lacklustre way are the unavoidable consequences of this narcissistic quest for revenue.

Conversely to these negative trends, we conclude on a positive note:

  1. You DO have options

Do not let any supplier block your ability to make well-thought-out judgements about your next steps in the business world. Reputable suppliers will never try to push you into hurried agreements which you will later come to regret.

Staying with your supplier is not the only option so do not assume this to be the case. Neither is it necessarily the best option, for all of the reasons outlined above, despite what your persuasive supplier will try to seduce you into believing.

Investigate fully on your own terms and in your own time. Only then can you make an informed choice about whether to sit tight or leave of your own free will. Independently owned suppliers will pride themselves on being your trusted advisers. Seek suppliers who are genuinely concerned about you and place the greatest importance on customer care. By doing so, you and your business are in good hands.

Deborah Edwards, COO, Insight Legal

Feeding Bristol – President’s Charity of the Year – Webinar

Ben Holt AGM Round-up Video



WECA support for business and residents

WECA support for business and residents

LSB State of Legal Services Report 2020, draft strategy and business plan consultation – end 5th Feb 2021

Following the publication of the State of Legal Services 2020 report last month, the LSB has today launched a consultation on the sector wide draft strategy, and our 2021-22 business plan. The consultation closes on Friday 5th February 2021.


The State of Legal Services 2020 report offers an evidence-based account of the legal services sector over the last ten years, and points to challenges that the sector continues to face under three strategic themes: fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services.


The draft strategy for the legal services sector outlines how long-term, sustainable change is needed to reshape legal services so that they can better meet the needs of society. Our draft business plan 2021-22 outlines how we will begin to play our part to deliver on the strategy.


The LSB is hosting a webinar during the consultation period to discuss the findings of the State of Legal Services 2020 report, and the draft strategy. You are invited to join us for the interactive webinar to share your thoughts on these documents.


Date and time: 3.30pm – 5pm, Thursday 14 January 2021


Registration: To attend, please register at Hopin, using this link.


Law Firms Must Adapt and Respond to Pandemic Led Industry Change

Research conducted by leading consultancy Nine Feet Tall, suggests top law firms should recognise the need for increased autonomy, whilst continuing to drive technological change in order to succeed in the future. The dramatic shake up caused by the coronavirus pandemic means their futures will now be determined both by the adoption of remote working and new technology, but also by the ability to continuously adapt and respond to change.

Nine Feet Tall interviewed representatives from firms including DAC Beachcroft, Ashurst  and Osborne Clarke to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the legal sector in a turbulent year.

Following the closure of offices during lockdown, a survey from British Council for Offices[1] suggests 46% of office workers want to blend remote and office working in the future. Nine Feet Tall’s Legal Expert Tiggy Robinson said “firms need to accept this new flexible approach to how and where work is conducted. There is an opportunity to reimagine company culture, which will help with attracting and retaining talent.” 

How firms conduct business with clients has now become virtual rather than physical and this opens up opportunities for creative new online solutions. The legal sector should move from a passive to an active approach to designing a leading virtual client experience and applying Design Thinking principles can help.

The path to technological change for law firms doesn’t just mean introducing the latest software. Firms should also be considering if existing technology has been fully adopted. Tiggy explains: “In June, the use of Microsoft Teams grew by 894%[2] compared with its base usage in February 2020. This illustrates the importance of remote collaboration across firms, however are the full benefits of these technologies being realised or are teams using a small proportion of the functionality available from collaboration tools like this?”

Nathan Hayes, IT Director at international legal practice Osborne Clarke said:

“The pandemic has clearly disrupted our working practices making our people significantly more receptive to change. We have a once in a generation opportunity to take advantage of that to accelerate improvements to the way in which we work and lock in the associated benefits before the window of opportunity closes.”

The research conducted explores the different areas the legal sector is addressing, to prepare for the future of work: People, culture, clients, technology, working environments and processes. In each area the common theme centres around adaptability and moving towards a new era. An industry rich in tradition, history and legacy… law now needs to overcome any resistance to innovating and try a new approach fit for a world where change is the only constant.

Nine Feet Tall’s full research can be downloaded here.

Notes to Editor:

At Nine Feet Tall, we support our clients to design and deliver complex change. We have years of experience in providing innovative consultancy to law firms. Our team is experienced at bringing rigour, pace and quality to the change programmes of many of the UK’s top 100 law firms. We accelerate project delivery, enabling leaders to realise business benefits faster and boost firm-wide confidence. With a track-record of successful delivery of more than 200 change programmes over the past 16 years, our team lives and breathes complex project and programme delivery. We work as a partner to clients’ teams and engage their business users to embed lasting change.

Contact – Tiggy Robinson, Partner. 07826 850191

[1] [1]



The Law Society: Law under lockdown: the impact of COVID-19 measures on access to justice and vulnerable people

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique and unprecedented challenge for preserving people’s rights, and ultimately the rule of law. Policy decisions have needed to be made quickly to respond to a rapidly changing emergency situation and to protect public health and lives.

While quick decision making has been necessary, it means that the measures implemented have not been scrutinised as much as they usually would. Disproportionate impacts on vulnerable groups have emerged and solicitors have played an important role in supporting people facing difficult circumstances.

However, the measures used to tackle the pandemic have also changed how people access courts and lawyers. It has become more difficult to get legal advice and the protection of the court at the same time that rights have been reduced under emergency powers.

The Law Society view
When exceptional emergency measures affecting fundamental rights and the most intimate areas of people’s lives are introduced, it’s essential to maintain access to justice to ensure those most at risk are protected.

Lessons must be learned from this period and put into practice as we continue to tackle COVID-19 and when shaping responses to future emergencies.

The government’s six-month review of the Coronavirus Act 2020 is a vital opportunity to ensure the measures in place reflect the current situation, address adverse impacts and protect access to justice.

Some important areas we identify for the review to consider are:

  • adapting or removing measures to reflect the current situation
  • protecting access to justice and legal advice for those most at risk
  • improving information, data collection and evaluation

Our analysis has been informed by:

  • desk research parliamentary questions
  • Freedom of Information requests
  • correspondence and discussions with government and civil service officials
    input from our expert committees
  • a focused survey of solicitors

Download the report here

Research project on the Language of DIY Justice, focusing on communication challenges experienced by LIPS in civil proceedings

Birmingham Law School and BCU School of English are conducting a research project on Language of DIY Justice, focusing on communication challenges experienced by Litigants in Person in civil proceedings.

The project investigates the following aspects: language used to construct perceptions around DIY Justice; legal-lay communication; and communication and elicitation processes embedded in court administration and procedures (e.g. how information and evidence is elicited through administrative steps and procedural rules).

The focus on language and communication allows the project to explore key players and factors that shape DIY Justice:

  • LIPs and their perceptions of their experiences and roles within legal proceedings;
  • judges and lawyers and their perceptions of LIPs’ capabilities and roles within legal proceedings;
  • communication challenges that arise during legal-lay interactions;
  •  communication and elicitation processes inherent in court administrative procedures;
  • communication and elicitation processes embedded in civil procedure rules.

We would also be interested in your reflections on recent remote hearings if you have any experience with LIPs in these settings.

As part of the project, the Principal Investigator Dr Tatiana Tkacukova is interested in conducting interviews with solicitors and barristers who have experience dealing with LIPs. If you would like to share your experience and views, please get in touch with Tatiana at The interview will last for app. 15 mins and can be done over the phone or via Zoom/MS Teams/Skype or another online platform.

Thank you very much for considering your involvement.




Covid 19 Business Interruption Insurance Claims: Business and Property Courts in Bristol 


The judgment of the Supreme Court in the appeal from the decision of the Divisional Court in FCA v Arch Insurance and ors [2020] EWHC 2448 (Comm) is now expected either just before Christmas or early in the New Year.

Arch is a test case brought by the FCA designed to determine the construction of certain provisions in insurance policies written by the Appellant Insurers, and obtained by a range of businesses and others which purport to provide coverage in the event of business interruption.

The Financial List Judges (in effect a Divisional Court) dealt with a substantial number of issues, not all of which are appealed by the insurers. The Supreme Court is being asked to determine matters of construction relating to:

(i)        “Disease Clauses”; i.e. those which can be triggered by the occurrence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (“COVID-19”), typically within a specified distance of the insured’s premises;

(ii)       “Prevention of Access Clauses”; i.e. those triggered by public authority intervention preventing access to, or use of, premises as a result of COVID-19; and

(iii)      “Hybrid Clauses”; i.e. those clauses which contain wording from both Disease and Prevention of Access Clauses.

In addition, the appeal raises questions as to whether the Divisional Court was correct:

(iv)      to apply certain counterfactual scenarios in relation to the operation of the clauses in relevant policies which provided for loss adjustments (the “Trends Clauses”); and

(v)       in its analysis of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd v Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.

It is anticipated that there will be a substantial number of insurance claims of this sort arising from the pandemic. The courts are concerned to ensure that they are efficiently managed and heard. To that end Mr Justice Butcher has been nominated as the Judge of the Commercial Court who will oversee this litigation.

Claims should be issued in the relevant local Business and Property Courts in accordance with established practice. The nature of many of the claims will make them suitable for the Circuit Commercial Court. Subject to the need for transfer, they will be managed locally. There will be regular consultation between the local Circuit Commercial Court judges and Mr Justice Butcher, with a view to promoting consistency, and to identify further issues which may be suitable for early definitive determination.

If the case is one which justifies a trial by a Judge of the Commercial Court, the necessary arrangements will be made. It is intended that any such trials by Commercial Court judges will be heard locally.

When issuing such a claim in Bristol on CE File, Claimants should send the Court a covering letter headed “Covid 19 Business Interruption Insurance claim” and should identify any issue of law or construction which in their view may be suitable for early determination.

Mr Justice Butcher has also requested that when a claim is issued in a regional B&PC, the Claimant’s solicitor should inform the Commercial Court by emailing their senior listing team with details of the case title, court reference and the location of the local court where the claim has been issued.

Hull, Daniel <>;

Tame, Michael <>

A copy of the covering letter sent to the issuing Court with a note of the claim number assigned to the case will suffice for this purpose.


HHJ Russen QC




Trustees wanted at the Solicitors Benevolent Association

Please click the link below for full details of the positions and how to apply:

HM Courts and Tribunals Service – COVID operating hours

HMCTS  have extended the deadline for responding to their COVID operating hours consultation. Responses can now be submitted until 11.45pm on Monday 14 December 2020.

South West Skills Survey – Weston College and Business Leader magazine

As we all know, 2020 has been a challenging year for companies in all sectors, and as a result, the future of the workplace has been a continual debate amongst entrepreneurs, CEOs and business leaders.

To help understand potential solutions and future skills needs, Weston College has teamed up with Business Leader Magazine to give employers an opportunity to have their say with a South West Skills Survey (South West Skills Survey press release). The aim of the survey is to find out what the skills requirements are for companies in the months and years ahead, as we look to move past the COVID-19 pandemic. The results will be turned into a feature included in a future edition of Business Leader Magazine.

You will see us sharing the survey on social media and please do share it with your clients/contacts as we aim to capture the voice of businesses in the region. Employers can complete the short survey – click here – which closes on Friday 6th November.

The Law Society: Law under lockdown: the impact of COVID-19 measures on access to justice and vulnerable people

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique and unprecedented challenge for preserving people’s rights, and ultimately the rule of law. Policy decisions have needed to be made quickly to respond to a rapidly changing emergency situation and to protect public health and lives.

While quick decision making has been necessary, it means that the measures implemented have not been scrutinised as much as they usually would. Disproportionate impacts on vulnerable groups have emerged and solicitors have played an important role in supporting people facing difficult circumstances.

However, the measures used to tackle the pandemic have also changed how people access courts and lawyers. It has become more difficult to get legal advice and the protection of the court at the same time that rights have been reduced under emergency powers.

The Law Society view

When exceptional emergency measures affecting fundamental rights and the most intimate areas of people’s lives are introduced, it’s essential to maintain access to justice to ensure those most at risk are protected.

Lessons must be learned from this period and put into practice as we continue to tackle COVID-19 and when shaping responses to future emergencies.

The government’s six-month review of the Coronavirus Act 2020 is a vital opportunity to ensure the measures in place reflect the current situation, address adverse impacts and protect access to justice.

Some important areas we identify for the review to consider are:

  • adapting or removing measures to reflect the current situation
  • protecting access to justice and legal advice for those most at risk
  • improving information, data collection and evaluation

Our analysis has been informed by:

  • desk research parliamentary questions
  • Freedom of Information requests
  • correspondence and discussions with government and civil service officials
  • input from our expert committees
  • a focused survey of solicitors

Download the report here


BLS to host Nightingale Court – round-up of press coverage

We are delighted to announce that our premises at 12 Colston Avenue are to become a Nightingale Court. BLS celebrate their 250th Anniversary today and will of course continue to provide all the usual services via its operational team who have been working remotely since March 2020.

Please see the MOJ press release below.

Bristol Law Society becomes a ‘Nightingale Court’

  • Nightingale Court set up to ease pressure on Bristol Crown Court
  • One of two new Nightingale Courts opening this week
  • Part of plans to ensure the courts system recovers from the pandemic as quickly as possible

A ‘Nightingale Court’ in Bristol will hear its first cases this week, as part of the Government’s plan to tackle the impact of coronavirus on the justice system.

The new site located at Bristol Law Society will carry out employment tribunals as well as non-custodial criminal cases, such as community service orders.

Temporary courts, known as ‘Nightingale Courts’, have been rapidly set up across the country to alleviate the pressure on courts and tribunals resulting from the pandemic – ensuring that justice continues to be served for victims as quickly as possible.

Courts Minister, Chris Philp MP, said:

“I am grateful to Bristol Law Society for joining the national effort to reduce delays and deliver speedier justice for victims.

“This is part of our plan to unlock vital capacity in the face of this unprecedented pandemic and ensure our courts recover as quickly as possible.”

Ben Holt, President of Bristol Law Society, said:

“This is I believe a great example of the benefits that can be achieved by close co-operation between The Society, the profession, the Judiciary and The Ministry of Justice.

“It will enable and ensure greater access to the justice system to members of the public and court users at a time when it is under extreme pressure.”

It brings the number of Nightingale Courts open nationwide to 14, including one in Chester which also began hearing cases this week. A further two are due to open later this month, in total providing 22 extra courtrooms.

The move follows a recent £80m investment in the courts system to meet the unprecedented challenge presented by the pandemic. This will fund the employment of 1,600 new staff to support the recovery, with more temporary Nightingale Courts and technology to boost capacity. These measures are beginning to show positive results:

  • Magistrate courts are seeing the number of outstanding cases drop – dealing with over 21,000 cases a week
  • Crown courts are currently holding over 100 jury trials, and clear over 1,700 cases a week
  • 250 Crown Court rooms will be available for jury trials by the end of October following the roll out of Plexiglass screens to more than 200 court rooms and 100 jury deliberation rooms

Meanwhile, a major £153 million investment across the courts system announced in July will speed up technological improvements and modernise courtrooms.

Notes to Editors

  1. In August, the locations of an initial set of Nightingale Courts were unveiledA further eight were revealed last month
  2. Plexiglass screens have been rolled out to more than 200 courtrooms and over 100 jury deliberation rooms helping to enable 250 Crown Court rooms for jury trials by the end of October.
  3. New video technology is additionally being rolled, out having been used in up to 90% of hearings since the outbreak began.
  4. See the Lord Chancellor’s statement on court recovery

The Law Society Gazette article can be read here



Obituary of Mark Chawner

Mark Chawner, Associate Solicitor with DAS Law sadly passed away on 21st September 2020.  He had advanced oesophageal cancer which was diagnosed days before he passed. Mark was a fixture in the Bristol litigation world for over 20 years, mainly with Lyons Davidson and DAS Law. He was an excellent lawyer, and left his mark with cases such as Lester v Woodgate.  

Those who know him would describe him as a supportive leader and mentor who always made his juniors feel valued. But he never took himself too seriously and will be sadly missed by all his colleagues and associates.

A private celebration of his life is on 12th October, and donations are welcome to his chosen charity, the Oesophageal Patients Association at . If anyone wishes to contact the family to express their condolences then please contact Sarah Hayes on

Crime – new payment fee to cover work completed for sending hearings comes into effect on 19 October 2020.

The LAA has today published operational guidance on the new Sending Hearing Fixed Fee in advance of their implementation on Monday.

Further details on the fee, with links to the relevant guidance, can be found below:


Legal mental health charity LawCare has announced a new ground-breaking research study ‘Life in the Law’ ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10th October.

The charity has teamed up with leading academics in the field Dr Emma Jones (University of Sheffield), Professor Richard Collier (University of Newcastle), Caroline Strevens (Reader in Legal Education, University of Portsmouth) and Lucinda Soon (Solicitor and PhD researcher) along with Nick Bloy (Executive Coach and founder of Wellbeing Republic) and Kayleigh Leonie (LawCare trustee and solicitor) to develop the research study which will look at the impact of work culture and working practices on the wellbeing of legal professionals. The research seeks to understand  the day to day realities of life in the law and uses three academic research scales for burn-out, psychological safety and autonomy. Anyone working in the legal industry, including support staff, can complete the online questionnaire across the UK, Ireland, UK, ROI, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The results will form the basis of an academic paper and will be announced next year.

Elizabeth Rimmer CEO of LawCare said: “This is the biggest ever piece of academic research into wellbeing in the legal industry in the UK and Ireland and we hope it will give us a clear picture of how the culture and practice of law affects mental health. The results will help us to improve the support available to legal professionals and drive long lasting change in legal workplaces so that people working in the law can thrive. We would urge anyone working in the legal profession to take part.”

Dr Emma Jones Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Sheffield said: “This study is an opportunity to obtain important empirical data on the wellbeing of legal professionals. The findings will give us a valuable insight into the impacts of legal practice and legal culture on individual legal practitioners, raise understanding and awareness of the key issues influencing wellbeing and help shape the development of appropriate and sustainable responses.”

 Take part at


For all media enquiries contact Gemma Matthews, Communications Manager on or 07813 949633

About LawCare

  • LawCare is an independent charity offering emotional support, information and training to the legal community in the UK and Ireland. We work to promote good mental health and wellbeing in legal workplaces.
  • We’re here to help through our confidential helpline, email, webchat and one-to-one peer support network. The helpline number is 0800 279 6888 (1800 991 801 in Ireland) and you can access other support, information and resources at (
  • We help all branches of the legal profession: solicitors, barristers, barrister’s clerks, judges, Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals, trade mark attorneys, patent attorneys, costs lawyers, and their staff and families.
  • Our support spans the legal life from student to training to practice and retirement.


Used Stamps Appeal

Annual Stamp Challenge!  This year Clair, in the BLS office, is continuing the success of her used stamp collecting.  Last year she collected in the region of 6kg of stamps for Clic Sargent as her godson was suffering from Leukemia.  This year she has chosen the National Eye Research Centre.  Please encourage your staff to collect at home and your post rooms to save the stamps for her.  For every 1kg of stamps the charity will get £20.  When you have an A4 envelope or a carrier bag full please email Clair to arrange collection at

VWV Lawyer Appointed As Bristol’s Honorary Consul for Germany








VWV Associate Kai von Pahlen has recently been appointed as Honorary Consul for Germany in Bristol, Somerset and Gloucestershire, by the German Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Andreas Michaelis.

At a socially distanced appointment ceremony, Kai was joined by Marvin Rees (Mayor of Bristol) and Tim Illston (former Honorary Consul for Germany), when the Ambassador announced Kai’s appointment.


German Honorary Consuls are volunteers who are well connected in the community and offer valuable representation and assistance to German citizens, including in emergency situations. They also play a role in developing and maintaining British-German cooperation and friendship in fields such as trade, economy, culture and science.

Kai was born in Hamburg, but studied law in the UK. He is bilingual in English/German and experienced in advising on cross-border issues through his work as a Construction & Engineering Associate at VWV. He also already holds an impressive list of honorary appointments, having previously served as the regional head of the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany and of Junior Chamber International. Kai also currently serves as a committee member of the Bristol Hannover Council, which represents a British-German twinning relationship that goes back to 1947.


Kai commented on his appointment: “It is a great privilege to accept this appointment as Honorary Consul for Germany. It was an absolute pleasure to take over this role from Tim, and to meet Mayor Rees and HE Ambassador Michaelis. Particularly in the current climate, I look forward to looking after German citizens in my area and helping to maintain friendship and cooperation between the UK and Germany.”

Photograph, left to right: Tim Illston (the former Honorary Consul), Kai von Pahlen, Marvin Rees (Mayor of Bristol) and Andreas Michaelis (German ambassador to the UK)


How is your workplace changing due to Covid-19?

Alongside Management Today, Hays want to hear your views on the workplace of tomorrow in light of Covid-19.

Share your views to help inform our research on the future of the workplace, the growth of hybrid working and increased remote working.

Take the survey here

Hays – New Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020- Flexible working, equality & Covid-19



This year there has seen unprecedented disruption to how we work. The Covid-19 crisis rapidly sped up the adoption of flexible working, which could also could create the opportunity for real change to workplace diversity.

Request your copy of the Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020 to find out:

  • How the journey towards genuine equality in the workplace is progressing
  • How offering flexible working can attract more diverse talent
  • How the Covid-19 pandemic is shaping organisations’ flexible working offerings
  • How employers and employees can reap the ED&I rewards of flexible working

Request your copy of the report here:






Bristol + Bath LegalTech Survey – please complete!


Whitecap is delighted to have been commissioned by the Bristol Law Society, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and Bristol+Bath LegalTech, to deliver a report to provide a comprehensive analysis of the region’s strengths in LegalTech and innovation and provide recommendations for the growth of the sector.

One of the region’s leading law firms, Foot Anstey LLP, has signed up as the first business partner and we are seeking further partners to support this work.

To find out more please contact Stuart Harrison, Whitecap’s Associate Director for the South West or Chris Bull, a well known legal sector specialist who we are delighted to have working with us on this important project.

We are conducting an online survey which we encourage anyone with an interest in LegalTech in the region complete:


Call for evidence on Judicial Review by IRAL – close 19/10/20

Does judicial review strike the right balance between
enabling citizens to challenge the lawfulness of
government action and allowing the executive and
local authorities to carry on the business of

IRAL Call for Evidence

See Document here

Duration: From 07/09/20 to midday (12.00) 19/10/20
Enquiries: Independent Review of Administrative Law
How to respond: Please send your response by 19 October
2020 to


Govt Funding for Re-Training those whose roles at risk from AI/automation

MyKindaFuture & the Government National Retraining Scheme:
Applying behavioural science and technology to upskill those in roles at risk of automation:

Open the full PDF here :NESTA Employer Engagement Project

Contact Simon Reichwald, Mykindafuture on 07813 793240 or for further details

Click here to enlarge

Digital Workshops to Help the Underrepresented Pursue a Career in the Legal Sector

Legal work experience coalition PRIME has commissioned talent specialist MyKindaFuture to deliver a series of digital workshops for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Following a competitive tender process, PRIME has commissioned MyKindaFuture, the overlooked talent specialist, to deliver a series of digital workshops for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds across the UK this autumn. This follows a successful pilot that PRIME undertook last year, involving member firms Brodies, DWF, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Pinsent Masons, along with support from Thorntons.

23[1] firms have already signed up to host 25 two-hour workshops, focusing on students in Years 9-11, and S2 – S3 in Scotland, living in some of the UK’s social mobility ‘cold spots’, where a lack of opportunities and awareness of certain sectors, together with very little support, can prevent young people from pursuing viable career options. This is a great display of the collaboration between PRIME member firms. All have a shared mission of improving access into the legal profession.

The sessions will help introduce students to the prospect of a career in law and the variety of roles available to them. Leading representatives from a wide array of law firms, such as Brodies and DWF, will be participating in the workshops, sharing their personal experiences, demystifying the routes into the sector, and answering any questions.

Kirstie Maclennan of Brodies’ who led the PRIME working group said “I am delighted that the hard work that went into the pilot showed what a difference several law firms working together could make and provided a springboard for PRIME to launch this major project with MyKindaFuture”.

Will Akerman, Founder and MD at MyKindaFuture, explains: “We’re working with PRIME to help inspire, motivate and support young people when it comes to their career options. We want to open their eyes to the possibility of working in the legal sector by becoming a lawyer, paralegal, conveyancer or any other role that grabs their attention.

“There is so much talent that comes from disadvantaged backgrounds that can only be reached via a targeted approach, which is why we’re so pleased that PRIME has partnered with us to engage with overlooked and hard-to-reach, talented young people, and offer them the opportunities they deserve.

“We believe that engagement with companies is essential for students to develop their practical and employability skills, and the workshops will facilitate this. Our work will also help businesses to connect with a more diverse talent pool at the earliest stage possible, whilst providing students with all the tools they need to kick start an educational journey via work experience, internships and ultimately, careers.”

Nicholas Cheffings, PRIME Chair said “I am delighted that PRIME will be working with MyKindaFuture on the roll-out of this fabulous initiative. Now, more than ever, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds need the opportunity to hear about career options and begin to believe that law is a viable one for them. It is so important that we reach students in these cold spot areas where we, as a profession, are simply not getting enough traction”.

The partnership between MyKindaFuture and PRIME will continue into 2021 when it plans to host physical workshops in law firms across the UK.

Will Akerman concludes: “At a time when lockdown restrictions caused by COVID-19 have stripped young people of many opportunities, we’re delighted to be able to use our experience in virtual events to support PRIME to reach disadvantaged students in the UK’s ‘cold spots’, where opportunities are scarce, to help them believe in a future full of possibilities.”

For more information, visit and

or contact :

Simon Reichwald, Strategic Lead for Talent

M: 07813 793240

About MyKindaFuture

MyKindaFuture is the UK’s leading overlooked talent specialist. The company works with employers to attract, recruit and retain underrepresented and diverse talent, including young people and those returning to the workplace.


PRIME is an alliance of law firms across the UK, committed to improving access to the legal profession through work experience.

[1]Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Baker McKenzie LLP, BCLP, Brodies, Clifford Chance, CMS, Dentons, DWF, Eversheds, Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer, Gibson Dunn, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Lewis Silkin, MacRoberts LLP, Macfarlanes LLP, Mayer Brown, Pinset Masons, Skadden, Arps, Slare, Meagher & Flom, Stephenson Harwood, White & Case LLP, Womble Bond Dickinson


Movers & Shakers!

Regional law firm Wards Solicitors LLP is delighted to announce the promotion of Rachael Thomas to Partner.

Rachael is an experienced Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity solicitor, and deals with Will drafting, Inheritance Tax and Administration of Estates, along with Mental Capacity work including Lasting Powers of Attorney.  She qualified as a solicitor in 2005, and is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).

Rachael has also just qualified for full TEP membership of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the leading worldwide industry body for senior practitioners that represents the highest of professional standards.

In addition, Solicitor Emily Moberly and Solicitor Associate Alison Mellor who also work in Wards’ Wills Probate and Mental Capacity team have been newly accredited with full TEP membership. This brings the total number of fully qualified TEP solicitors at Wards to 13.

Commenting, Wards’ Managing Partner David Sheridan said: “We are lucky to have a whole host of talented individuals within the business, and as our firm continues its growth, we are committed to helping them develop further with their careers. Rachael’s promotion and Emily and Alison’s achievements are a reflection of their hard work and dedication, even during these difficult times, and demonstrate the high level of expertise we offer our clients across our range of services. ”

Rachael Thomas’s promotion to Partner follows a record number of promotions announced by Wards Solicitors this summer.  In June, the firm created four new Partnerships, and promoted two of its solicitors to Associate level.

Wards Solicitors LLP is a well-established regional law firm with eleven offices across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset.  The company employs more than 75 legal specialists who provide a full range of legal services to both local businesses and individuals.

Financial Remedy Consent applications- change of procedure

Please note that from 24th August 2020 legal professionals must make Financial Remedy consent applications using the Online Financial Remedy consent order service. To register for this service (‘My HMCTS’) and to find further information, please visit the following link:

The practice direction to support this change (PD36T) will be issued on 24th August 2020 and makes temporarily modifications to PD41B. This makes the use of the online system mandatory for consent applications where the applicant is legally represented, unless one of the following exceptions applies:

  • The application is for a Variation order
  • There are existing Financial Remedy Proceedings
  • The matter is a Civil Partnership or Judicial Separation case

If one of the above exceptions applies, you should issue your application via paper.

Legal Professionals can also use the MyHMCTS service to issue divorce and Probate proceedings.


Risk Management by Marsh JLT Specialty- Webcasts, Retainer Letters Pt 1 & Pt 2

Part One

Victoria Prescott focuses on the relevant regulatory obligations and guidance, significant case law, and the findings and conclusions that may be drawn from our survey of claims handled by panel firms:

Part Two

John Kunzler discusses the human factors and underlying behaviours involved, why achieving high levels of compliance may be difficult, and the link with negligence):

Will Search

We have been contacted by a local firm acting in the estate of Neil Herbert Filer, late of 5 Greenfield Road, Southmead, Bristol, BS10 5NA.  They are seeking to locate an original Will.  It is understood that the Will was drawn up approximately 2 years ago by a firm raising money for Children in Need, the client visited on a Saturday.  Did your firm support this charity at that time and could you have any information regarding the whereabouts of this Will.  Please contact Clair on 0117 9458486 or

Feeding Bristol’s Healthy Holidays 2020

Feeding Bristol is BLS’s Charity of the Year.

If you can help to spread the word by sharing Feeding Bristol’s Healthy Holidays 2020 fundraiser within your networks, that will help increase awareness of the issue of hungry and disadvantaged children within Bristol, and hopefully raise some funds also.

There is also lots of social media activity that would be great if you can re-tweet/post/etc

Fundraiser video:




New study shows online legal mediation could be the future

A new study by the Association of South West Mediators and Bristol Law Society has revealed that many legal professionals think online mediation has been a success.

Mediation plays an increasingly important role in modern dispute resolution, helping individuals and businesses avoid more costly court actions by allowing a third-party, the mediator, to help resolve conflicts. Like every other aspect of life it has not been immune to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and has had to adapt.

It might not have been unreasonable to have thought that a process that involves building empathy with the parties and which can often last all day and go on late into the night would have been very difficult to move “online”.

Perhaps it is therefore surprising that the latest study by the two South West legal groups found that 72 per cent of respondents felt online mediation was as or more effective than traditional face-to-face mediation.

Incredibly 100 per cent of respondents said that online mediation was more convenient, while 91 per cent found it to be more cost-effective.

More than half agreed that online mediation meetings were easier for elderly people (54 per cent) and people with disabilities (62 per cent).

As a result of the overall findings, nearly a quarter said they would prefer to do mediations online in future, with 60 per cent saying they would use virtual meetings again but that it would depend on the circumstances of each case.

Roger Isaacs a forensic accountant and partner of Milsted Langdon LLP, who is also a mediator and expert witness with considerable experience in giving evidence virtually said: “The concept of conducting mediations on line would have been very unlikely ever to have been tested had it not been for the necessities of the past few months.

“As it is, the experience has been much more positive that many might have predicted with almost a quarter in favour of conducting more online meetings in future and a further 60 per cent agreeing that they may prove useful post-COVID-19.  Online mediation may therefore be a lasting legacy of the Lockdown.”

“From a personal standpoint, I have been pleasantly surprised by the flexibility and convenience of online meetings and look forward to doing more of them.” he added

July 2020

Urgent Court Notice – Wearing of Face Masks

Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre

Wearing of face covering in court buildings:

We’re now asking that all court and tribunal users wear a face covering effective from Monday 27 July 2020. This will also include all HMCTS staff members being required to wear a face covering in the public areas. If you need one, they will be made available to you, though we request that you bring your own. You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a practical reason not to. For example:

  • you have disability or health issue that makes it difficult
  • wearing one will cause you severe distress
  • a deaf person needs to read your lips
  • you are eating, drinking or taking medicine.

Children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a face covering.

You may be asked to temporarily remove your face covering for identification purposes. The judge or magistrate may also ask that face coverings are temporarily removed. If you need to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound, they may ask you to take your face covering off.



Safer working at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre -You tube video:

Safer working at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre -You tube video:

The court has produced a “youtube” video to assist court users on the safety arrangements in place at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre as a result of Covid 19.

You are encouraged to view this video before attending your court hearing.

A link to this video is provided:

Mobile Device and Laptop Covid-19 Appeal

Download PDF here

If you are able to assist please email Hayliegh Beckles at BITC who is coordinating the responses 

2020/21 Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causea nominations

The Ministry of Justice has launched the 2020/21 round of Queen’s Counsel honoris causa (honorary silk) awards by inviting nominations. All practitioners and members of the public are free to make nominations (including self-nominations if they qualify) directly to the Ministry of Justice.

In addition, The Law Society is participating in this process, as in previous years, by seeking to make nominations itself of solicitor members of The Law Society. Office holders are securing coverage for The Law Society’s role as nominator by means of publicity in the Professional Update, local law societies announcement, and The Law Society web site (see External Appointments) inviting nominations. We are inviting people to nominate themselves, or others, to us. Office holders will then select those who will go forward as nominees of The Law Society.

The way in which to make a nomination for this process is by providing basic personal details of the nominee (or yourself) and the following:

  • Legal qualifications and legal experience to date
  • What significant contribution have they made to the law in England and Wales other than in court
  • Major contribution beyond what might normally be expected for someone in their position
  • Why you think this person should be nominated by The Law Society as an Honorary QC

Please download and complete the standard nomination form from the Ministry of Justice web site along with further details.

Please send your completed form to no later than 12 noon on Monday 27 July 2020 for consideration by The Law Society for submission to the Ministry of Justice. Nomination by The Law Society is subject to our own internal review and is, of course, no guarantee of ultimate success in the competition. As mentioned above, you are free to nominate yourselves or anyone you wish direct to the Ministry of Justice.

Survey – The Disclosure Pilot in the Business and Property Courts – 18 months in

The disclosure pilot scheme introduced by PD51U (the Pilot) has applied to all proceedings in the Business and Property Courts since 1 January 2019 and is set to run until January 2021.

As we approach the 18 month mark, BLS is keen to understand the experiences of practitioners and their clients working with the Pilot. This is a living Pilot and the feedback you give will hopefully be used to shape how the rules will be implemented in the future. This is your chance to have your say now you have had some experience of how the Pilot operates.

This questionnaire is aimed at finding out how the Pilot is performing on a practical level and understanding any day to day issues faced by practitioners using the Pilot. The results of this questionnaire may be reported to the judges of the BPCs in Bristol in an anonymised format – no names will be provided.

The questionnaire should take no more than 10 minutes or so and allows you to input any more detailed comments you may have. If you have any other points you would like to raise, please contact

Click here to take the questionnaire.

The questionnaire will close on  30 September 2020.

Our thanks to Leeds Law Society for permission to recreate this survey