Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre update on listings in the Family Court

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Following on from the guidance given by the Lord Chief Justice and the President of the Family Division today [yesterday] the Judiciary and staff at Bristol are assessing as quickly as possible which hearings can take place using the telephone, skype or video facilities and which hearings will still remain listed as an attended hearing. We will notify the parties in any case in which the current listing is changed. 


Can I assure you that we are aware of all relevant guidance  and do not need to be referred to it. At the moment the court staff are receiving so many references to guidance and  requests for information that they cannot possibly respond and it is delaying the process of assessing current listings.


We ask you to bear with us during this most difficult of times and only to e-mail/contact the court when it is truly necessary.




HHJ Cotter QC

Designated Civil Judge for Avon, Somerset and Gloucestershire.


PS – we’ve checked. This advice applies to family cases too.



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We’ve been asked to post the following information by the Court Service.

There is now a published page providing high-level advice to court and tribunal users about the HMCTS response to coronavirus :

This page will be updated with new lines as and when the situation develops or when HMCTS has new information.


Could you be a Family Court Magistrate? – CANCELLED

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magistrates recruitment poster


Are you between 18-65 and looking for a volunteering role that REALLY makes a difference?

Could you be a Family Court Magistrate?

Helping to make the lives of children better.

Dealing with cases relating to children, solving problems and making decisions that try to keep children safe and protect them from harm. Working as a bench of three, taking advice from a trained Legal Advisor, Children & Family Court Advisory Service (CAFCASS) and the child’s guardian.

Typical cases include child protection and intervention in cases where parents have been separated.


If you are interested in applying to be a Family magistrate please attend one of the open day drop in sessions to find out more about the role and what is involved. Open days being held:

  • Monday 23 March 2020 btw 4-6 pm @Bristol Civil Justice Centre 2 Redcliff Street Bristol, BS1 6GR
  • Thursday 26 March 2020 btw 4-6 pm @Taunton Magistrates Court, St John’s Road Taunton TA1 4AX
  • Tuesday 31 March 2020 btw 4-6 pm @ Gloucestershire Family Court Kimbrose Way Gloucester GL1 2DE

Interest from all the diverse sections of our community is welcomed.

Find out more or apply now at



Boring but important – all change

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The Bristol Family Law Advice Scheme leaflets and materials have all been updated to take into account a trio of name changes!

The Bar Pro Bono Unit is now Advocate.

The Personal Support Unit is now Support Through Court.

And (most importantly) what was originally called the Bristol Family Court Pro Bono Scheme is now formally called the Bristol Family Law Advice Scheme (it’s been going by that name for a while but we thought we’d better update the paperwork!).

We’ve also updated our paperwork too, to make sure it is nice and clear how those involved in the scheme will and won’t use your data.

The new documents are here :

leaflet (for litigants who are interested in getting help from the scheme)

booking-form (for use by the Support Through Court volunteers who support the booking system)

Protocol Oct 2019 (for reference for volunteers using the scheme and the various services supporting it).




Theatre production : ‘Daisy Through the Looking Glass’

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There will be a performance of the Beyond Closed Doors Theatre Company’s production of ‘Daisy Through the Looking Glass’ in Henleaze on Saturday September 14th. The themes of the play, drawn from true stories from the family court, relate to parental conflict and children’s arrangements.  The dramatic presentation compels the audience to reflect upon and to question the way we currently deal with all this  and the implications for children and parents alike.

The performance will be followed by a discussion facilitated by the President of the Bristol Child Contact Centre, His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC.  This promises to be a uniquely engaging  evening for anyone interested in family justice.  Enjoyable too!

Tickets (£7.50, including refreshments – wine/soft drink/tea or coffee)  available now from Eventbrite.



‘Daisy through the looking glass’ is based on true but hidden stories that play out in the Family Court. Beyond Closed Doors Theatre Company, brings to a Bristol audience this powerful tale of love, life and family conflict and its sad, seemingly inevitable consequences for mother, father and most of all for their daughter Daisy herself.  This production is presented by the Bristol Child Contact Centre, which, for nearly 30 years has been helping children like Daisy and their parents.

It is estimated that, in Bristol more than 3,000 children lose all contact with a parent following parental separation.  This cannot be a matter that remains behind closed doors.  The play aims to raise awareness, increase understanding and provoke discussion of issues that touch on the lives of all of us. Following the performance a discussion during which the actors will remain in character will be assisted by facilitator HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC Designated Family Court  Judge for Bristol, Avon and Gloucester.


MaggieKeran Brady began her acting invovement as a member of the National Youth Theatre, has worked with Solent People’s Theatre , Southampton and in Ireland , New Zealand and the UK as a theatre practitioner, faclitator, atrts & media co-ordinator , director actor and teacher. Founder creative director for BCD Theatre .

Dave: Marc Besant grew up in Bristol and  has appeared in several stage and film productions including, most recently playing Raymond Bock in David Hare’s ‘Plenty’ at the Mission Theatre Bath; awarded the Rosebowl award for Best Actor in 2015for his portrayal of Hamlet.

Daisy: Leah Brady worked with theatre companies in New Zealand where she trained with Body in Space Theatre Company and was part of dance, drama and musical theatre companies.  Moving to the UK in 2015 Leah was a founding actor with BCD while at St. Brendan’s sixth form college. She is currently studying Performing Arts at Middlesex University.



Debate : We make unnecessary use of care proceedings

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On Monday 15th April between 4.30-6.00pm at Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre, there will be a debate on the proposal : ‘We make unnecessary use of care proceedings’. The debate will be held at Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre.

Speakers will be :

  • Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of Cafcass
  • Sarah Phillimore, Barrister, St John’s Chambers, Bristol
  • Clive Diaz, Social Worker and Lecturer
  • Hannah Shead, CEO of Trevi House
  • A Parent

Booking is essential, and you can reserve your place here.


Another Event at Bristol Court in February

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On Weds 6 Feb at there will be a debate on the question : ‘We make unnecessary use of care proceedings’. The debate will be held at Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre.

Further details will be posted here in due course. Meanwhile, please save the date. Booking will be required so please check back.


Events at Bristol Family Court in Jan and Feb 2019

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There are two forthcoming events at Bristol Family Justice Centre :

  • Early Permanence Legal Seminar, 23 January 2019 
  • Lecture : “How Information Technology and Modern Communication Systems Are Affecting Journalism and Family Law”, 27 February 2019

Both events are free but booking is essential. If you wish to attend either event please e-mail the Family Delivery Manager- Jerry Fowler :

Further details are below.


Early Permanence Legal Seminar

Wednesday 23 January 2019 at 4.30pm

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 22.09.01

This event is hosted by the London Courts in partnership with CCS Adoption and Coram Centre for Early Permanence and supported by DfE funding. It will be chaired by His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC.

The aim is to consider the role of the courts in decision making and hear from the experience of carers and recent research into early permanence.

The seminar offers topical exchange in the current policy context with and between leaders in the field, focussing on fostering for adoption and concurrent planning, the journey of carers, rights and duties towards birth families, contact, and clarity as to the legal process. It is underpinned by the new Practice Guidance The role of Fostering for Adoption in achieving early permanence for children and the recent update of longitudinal research into impact of concurrency planning.

View flyer.


Lecture : “How Information Technology and Modern Communication Systems Are Affecting Journalism and Family Law”

Wednesday 27 February 2019 at 4.30pm

Journalist Louise Tickle will be giving a lecture on “How Information Technology and Modern Communication Systems Are Affecting Journalism and Family Law”.