Boring but important – all change

Published by:

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’

Published by:

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

Published by:

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

Published by:


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

Published by:

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”.


DFJ News News

Change of event details

Published by:

It has proved necessary to alter the arrangements for the theatre event on 11 January and the conference on 1 February 2018.

The theatre event at St Brendan’s College will now not take place on 11th January 2018. It has been necessary to put it back to 6.30 p.m. on 1st February. It will still take place at St Brendan’s College and tickets that have been bought for the 11th January are valid for that date. There is free parking there. The play, which shows a family that becomes involved in care proceedings, will end by 8.00 p.m. There will be pauses in the play when the audience can ask the actors (including me – I play the judge) questions about the roles that they are playing.

The conference on 1st February 2018 will now start at 4.00 p.m. and will finish by 5.15 p.m. (in order that those who wish to do so can attend the theatre event at St Brendan’s).


LiP Service and Radio 5

Published by:

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.

We are delighted to announce that Radio 5 will be joining us and recording the session on Thursday 1 February 2018. Book your place now (there is no obligation to speak to them)!
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

DFJ News News

Newsletter from HHJ Wildblood QC – Dec 17

Published by:

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.