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


SRA January 2018 Update

See the latest update from the SRA on:

  • AML
  • Personal Injury work
  • Working with young clients
  • Cyber crime
  • First tier complaints
  • Tackling current scams
  • etc.


Probate Insurance Solutions from Dual Group













It does seem when you open a newspaper these days, there is always a story of a family disputing their “loved one’s” will after death. It makes you wonder if there has been an increase in such disputes, or if there’s just been an increase in the general public’s interest in such cases, making them more likely to be reported. If you look at the official figures though, there certainly has been an increase in the number of cases going to court in the last five years. Sadly I feel it is a result of society becoming more litigious, with people becoming more willing to assert their rights and to try and claim something they perhaps morally shouldn’t.

No one likes to be left out, or rejected, but for some, to assuage their anguish of being left out of a will, they decide to chip away at the inheritance by running up huge legal bills; fighting the distribution to the bitter end. Who is the winner in this situation though? Also, it doesn’t role back time. It doesn’t change the fact your loved one didn’t consider you in their final bequest.

Celebrity estates are not immune and seem to be even more open to challenge. Michael Jackson’s siblings claimed his will was fake after being left out of his will following his death in 2009. Actor, Robin William’s third wife and adult children went to court in 2015 over his “celebrity memorabilia,” despite his estate being carefully left in trusts between them all, prior to his death. It has been reported the Actor, Peter Ustinov’s estate was consumed almost entirely in legal bills after a 9 year legal battle over a 36 year old will, following his death in 2004.

What about the well publicised Ilott v Mitson affair? Much has been written about this case already, which dominated the legal press for nearly ten years, coming to a conclusion in 2017. The facts of the case are that an estranged adult daughter had been left out of her mother’s will and the estate, worth around £500,000, was left to three charities. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, who overturned previous judgements in the lower courts which awarded large sums to the daughter. The Supreme Court recognised the importance of a testator’s wishes and result was, the daughter walked away with £50,000. Some say, she should not have received even this much.

We are often asked to insure against will disputes at DUAL. The cases I see on a daily basis always make sad reading. Take a case I had recently where a person had no close relatives. They had an old will leaving their estate to close friends and neighbours. Shortly before their death, some distant relatives got back in touch and “persuaded” them to make another will leaving their entire estate to them. On the person’s death, the relatives presented the new “will” to the administering solicitor. It was judged invalid, as it was not witnessed or signed correctly. Then followed a series of unpleasant and threatening correspondence to the solicitor from the relatives. DUAL assisted with providing a policy to cover the event the relatives continued with their claim that the will was valid, or presented another “will.” This enabled the distribution of the estate to proceed to the rightful beneficiaries, without fear and without further expense being incurred by the estate in dealing with the family.

In this day and age, perhaps it is more important than ever, to not look back in anger.










Kate Thorp
Manager – Executor & Inheritance Protection
T: +44 (0)20 73378775
M: +44 (0)7766307468

LiP Service Information Sessions- Radio 5 attending 1 Feb!

On Thursday 1 February 2018, Radio 5 live are coming to observe one of these sessions.
As a “one off”, the session will be open to both Applicants and Respondents in Family cases to attend this session which will be managed carefully by us.

There will be no obligation for anyone attending to be interviewed either before or after the session in case this puts off anyone wishing to attend.

LiP Service (Bristol)
Help for litigants in person

Are you involved in a court case or thinking about starting one?

Students from the universities in Bristol are holding information sessions where they will explain about the court procedure, what you can expect in court and what you need to do in preparation for the court hearing. You will be also given a tour of the court.

These meetings will normally take place as follows:
Claimant (Civil) 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month
Defendant (Civil) 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month
Applicant (Family) 1st and 3rd Friday of the month
Respondent (Family) 2nd and 4th Friday of the month
At the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre,
2 Redcliff Street, Bristol, BS1 6GR between 1 and 2pm

For more details and to book a place please telephone:
01483 216 571 and ask about LiP Service or you can book via our Facebook page.
Find us on Facebook LIP Service Bristol

Further information on the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre and the Family Court can be found by visiting the following website:-

HHJ Wildblood Newsletter

His Honour Judge Wildblood QC

Designated Family Judge for Avon, North Somerset and Gloucestershire

Newsletter – December 2017

1. The main reason for sending out this newsletter is to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year. This has been a very hard year for many people, both professionally and personally. But January brings about the beginning of a new year which, hopefully, will be flood-free at very least. Thank you very much for bearing with the difficulties that we have had in Bristol and for pulling together, as everyone did. For me the flood had two particular benefits. I gained a new nickname – Scuba Steve and also was forced to buy an expensive new suit – £45 from Primark with a £2 tie to go with it.

2. An indication of how hard everyone worked through the dark ages of the floods must be that our timeliness actually improved during that period. I am sure that those whose Christmas cheer lies in statistics will revel in ecstasy, knowing that public law cases took an average of 23.8 weeks here during the third quarter of the year.

3. Events – We have some fairly chunky events lined up for the New Year and I would be grateful for any support that you can give to them. They are all advertised on the family court info website. On 11th January 2018 there is an interactive theatre production at St Brendan’s College theatre, Bristol of a typical family scene leading to care proceedings in which the audience gets to discuss things directly with the actors (who stay in role); you can book to it on ticket source . On 1st February 2018 there is a conference details of which are at ; the idea of the conference is to listen to your views about what we could do better as a family court. The public and the press are invited to both events, of course.

4. Re S-F – I have been asked to include in this newsletter the following message from local authorities following the case of Re S-F: ‘The recent case of S-F (A Child) 2017 EWCA Civ 964 (12 July 2017) highlights the need for a local authority to file the Child Permanence Report (a CPR or Annex B) and the Agency Decision Makers record of decision with any application for a placement order. In his judgment Ryder J describes these as disclosable documents susceptible to cross examination. Following this the local authorities in the area are getting increasing demands for these documents to be served on the parents with the LA final evidence. However, according to the Family Practice Rules the report is a confidential document and can only be disclosed to the parties with a direction of the court (FPR Rule 14.13). Given this we need practitioners and the courts to make sure that, at any CMH/FCMH, where an application for a placement order appears likely and directions are given anticipating such an application, the court should also be asked to consider making a direction for the disclosure of the CPR/Annex B report (and the ADM minute) to the parties.’

5. Bundles – I always vowed that, if I ever became a judge, I would not start a case with what some call bundle rage. It is always unnerving for everyone when a case starts on that sort of note and, for parents who face the possible loss of their children, it must appear as though people are focussing on the wrong thing. However, I broke my vow this week and issued a judgment (X Council v A, B and C) which has been circulated. It makes no sense at all to land a bundle of over 1,000 pages on a court at 4.30 p.m. on the last working day before a final hearing for all the reasons that I give in the judgment. PD 27A is there for a reason and simply must be complied with. If you haven’t seen the judgment please get hold of a copy and read it. Every judge and magistrate I speak to tells stories of ridiculous bundles being handed in late. This really does have to stop.

6. I have been asked by Local Authorities to remind all practitioners that there has to be co-operation in agreeing what should go into a bundle. I agree that is so but it does not detract in any way from the responsibility on the Applicant, usually the Local Authority, to produce the bundle (see para 3.1 of the Practice Direction). Further it has been suggested that the court also shares a responsibility for the contents of the bundle; that is incorrect and is not what the Practice Direction says. If the court gives a specific direction about the contents of the bundle the direction must be complied with. However, the court cannot engage in discussions about the bundle’s contents outside a court hearing and should not be expected to. How can the court be expected, as a matter of generality, to direct what should or should not go into a bundle when it has not read the documents?

7. Disclosure Protocol – For the reasons that I gave in the X Council v A, B and C judgment, I am very opposed to local protocols. However, I have been asked to approve a local protocol for disclosure of Local Authority documents in private law proceedings. I have done so but do wish to stress that the protocol is over-ridden by any specific orders that are made in specific proceedings. Orders take priority over local protocols.

8. I wish you a very Happy Christmas. There is a song on Youtube about 2016 that some of you might know. 2017 has had its moments too. 2018 feels as though it’s going to be a better year.

Stephen Wildblood
21st December 2017.


The Law Commission’s Annual Report 2016-17

The Law Commission’s Annual Report 2016-17 has been published.
It reveals another positive year for the independent law reform body with:

  • Four new statutes based on Law Commission recommendations – Part 5 of the Enterprise Act 2016, Part 6 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Act 2017, and Part 2 of the Digital Economy Act 2017.
  • Record numbers of submissions to the 13th Programme of Law Reform consultation – over 1300 responses covering 220 individual suggestions
  • Updated figures which show that seven out of every 10 (69%) Law Commission reports have been wholly or partly implemented or accepted over the past half century
  • The appointment of our Chief Executive during the reporting period, Phil Golding
  • The appointment of a second non-executive Board member, Director of the Institute for Government, Bronwen Maddox.

Law Commission Chair Sir David Bean said:
“The past year has been a very successful one for the Commission with four more of our recommendations reaching the statute book.
“Our 13th Programme consultation – with some 1,300 responses – has also clearly demonstrated the public’s continued appetite for law reform.
“Despite operating in uncertain times with significant budgetary pressure, we will build on this enthusiasm to continue making the law simple, modern and fair.”
Download the Law Commission’s Annual Report 2016-17

Milsted Langdon – Forensic Accountancy News

 Please see the latest  NIFA Newsletter including articles on:

  • When losses are unavoidable
  • 10 ways to use a Forensic Accountant to resolve financial issues in divorce
  • Criminal Finances Act 2017 putting law firms at higher risk than ever

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 Pattinson & Brewer where he remains. He joined Bristol Law Society Council in 2003, eventually becoming Junior Vice President in 2015.

When not at work, Gary enjoys the company of his wife and two teenage daughters as well as a busy social calendar! He is a keen technical diver, singer and guitarist in a rock ‘n’ roll band (Men in Hats!) and a motorcycle enthusiast, currently engaged in training for his IAM Masters Motorcyclist qualification. He owns a Harley!

“Bristol Law Society has gone from strength to strength over recent years which was not always the case in these difficult times. I am honoured and humbled to be the Society’s President for this year and am supported by the most capable and committed team on the Executive and Council and I am most grateful for all the support we receive from our members and sponsors.

This team and the support we have has enabled the Society to establish a thriving base at the new “HQ” at Bradford House, 12 Colston Avenue which allows us to offer far more in the way of service to the members going forward.

As for my plan, I am not in need of any personal legacy. I am also aware that a year is such a short tenure. With this in mind and coming from ordinary beginnings myself, I am acutely aware of how difficult it is to forge a career in the law for the young generation. I have been so impressed and excited about the school’s initiative introduced by my predecessor, Becky Moyce, the Immediate Past President, that I can see no better use of my time in this Office than to support and grow this initiative further, with the Team’s help.

I will also focus upon building and honing the already excellent initiatives we have in training and services to the members and in representation to The Law Society and Government in terms of making our voices heard in any relevant consultations, of which there are many. I will also be looking to make increasing use of our new premises, particularly in respect of the mediation suite.

It should be fun!”


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

BLS are particularly pleased to be hosting the event on 28th February with Andrew Langdon QC speaking on independent advocacy operating in the public interest.



Miller Insights – Buyer beware in legal M&A













If you feel the urge to merge then make sure you do your homework!

Everybody loves a good deal, especially at this time of year. One option for small law firms looking to shrug off growing competitive pressures and stand out from their rivals is to buy another firm. A law firm can be transformed by an acquisition – for better or for worse, so it’s essential to do the groundwork to ensure it doesn’t regret the decision.