News

Bailiff service of domestic violence injunctions

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Where somebody applies for a non-molestation or occupation order (domestic violence injunction) but they don’t have a lawyer, the court bailiffs will usually serve the order on the person who it relates to on their behalf. The bailiffs at Bristol ask if you can provide a photograph when you come to court to help them identify the person they are trying to serve. An injunction is not effective until it is served.

News

How to communicate with the court

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The Family Delivery Manager at Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre (dealing with Bath, Bristol and Weston) asks that in any correspondence with the court you should please quote

  • your case number,
  • the name of the Judge dealing with your case,
  • any future hearing date or deadline.

Please put all of this information in the subject line of any e-mail or any correspondence you send to the court.

This will enable the court to prioritise correspondence appropriately and ensure it gets to the right Judge.
The only e-mail address which should be used is family@bristol.countycourt.gsi.gov.uk.

News

Free Family Law Session open to all – 1 Oct

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UPDATE – See write up of this on the Child Protection Resource blog here.

What does the Family Court do? … This is your chance to find out.
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Join His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC, designated family judge for the Bristol area, and a panel of legal experts to hear about how the Family Court works, what to expect and where to get helpful information.

Find out what the Family Court does, what it’s like going to Court and what to expect in terms of: paper work, giving evidence and the hearing process in general.

Get information about Legal Aid, the support available when you attend Court by yourself and alternatives to the Court process.

This will be an opportunity for you to come to the court building and ask questions about the practice of the Family Court.*

Who should attend?

  • Anyone interested in finding out more about the Family Court
  • All professionals in the field of family law
  • Journalists
  • Students

Other materials covered

  • What are Private Law Orders and upon what basis are they decided?
  • Public Law Orders (Supervision, Care, Placement and other Orders)
  • Civil Partnership and Divorcing Couples
  • Who decides on Cases?
  • What happens after a case?

The panel

Numbers are limited so book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment (booking via Eventbrite).

*Please note that individual cases will not be discussed.

News

Want this site in your area? Familycourtinfo website licensing project

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This site was created for family court users in the Bristol “Designated Family Judge area”. We’re really pleased that with the help of The Transparency Project we are now able to license the site to groups in other areas of England & Wales, so that they can provide something similar to families in their locality without reinventing the wheel. Details of the project can be found on The Transparency Project website here.

News

Pro Bono Scheme to launch in November

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We are please to be able to confirm that we are ready to launch a pro bono advice scheme at Bristol civil and Family Justice Centre from November 2015. It has taken some time to finalise the scheme documentation to ensure that it is practical and insurable, but we have now finalised those documents and secured the necessary approval for the scheme to run under the BPBU scheme for the purpose of insuring the bar. Solicitors will need to obtain cover via their own insurers, but we are confident that the documents attached will enable them to do so with minimum effort, and of course this should only need to be done once per firm.

We have consulted both bar and solicitors about the structure and scope of this scheme and think that it represents the best balance of various factors – it should provide a useful service without exposing individual practitioners to excessive risk or placing onerous burdens upon them. The scheme is intended to provide preliminary and limited advice and signposting on an appointment basis on a day where the court is not running family lists. It is not an advocacy service although in limited circumstances volunteers may offer to provide advocacy.

We now asking any further interested solicitors, barrister and ILEX to volunteer to be placed on the rota for two days per annum. Please would you email sarah.phillimore@stjohnschambers.co.uk to confirm if you are willing to make this commitment. Solicitors / ILEX – you will need to confirm that your firm’s insurers have agreed to extend cover before undertaking work under the scheme. The scheme documents below tell you how the rota will work.

We would like to extend our thanks to HHJ Wildblood QC and staff at Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre and the PSU for making this scheme viable – you will see from reading the documentation that they will play a vital role in the operational side of this scheme, enabling the booking and conflict checking system to operate appropriately.

Scheme Documentation :

Scheme leaflet

Bristol Pro Bono Scheme Protocol

Appointment booking form

Advice Summary template

Adjournment request template

ENQUIRY MONITORING FORM

DFJ News News

Designated Family Judge’s Newsletter – June 2015

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  1. I am sending out this newsletter to ask people please to ensure that they are aware of two things. Firstly, the orders that may be made under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to retrieve children who have gone missing; these are commonly called ‘Tipstaff orders’. Secondly, to give some help in relation to Section 98 of The Children Act 1989.
  2. Under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court, orders can be made to assist in retrieving children. Amongst the wide range of orders that are available there are three very specific types of order. They are called collection orders, location orders and passport orders. Each order has two parts. One is the directed to the Tipstaff and directs the Tipstaff to assist in implementing the court’s order. The collection order provides that the child is to be found and placed in the custody of a named person until there is a further hearing before the court (which must take place within three days of the child being found). The order usually permits the Tipstaff to enter premises to retrieve the child and to arrest anyone whom he has reasonable cause to believe has disobeyed or obstructed the order; anyone so arrested must be brought before the court as soon as practicable but in any event no later than the working day immediately after arrest. The collection order also contains other ancillary provisions.
  3. A location order is similar to a collection order but provides for the child to be located, rather than collected. Thus it is a less invasive order. A passport order involves control of passports. All three orders may provide for the surrender of passports and the prevention of applications for further passports in relation to the child.
  4. The Tipstaff keeps draft forms of each of those orders. The drafts may change from time to time and that is why standard draft forms should always be requested from the Tipstaff himself before any such orders are made; they are not held by the court offices and are not for general release. The Tipstaff, Richard Cheesley, can be contacted by the court from the global email address facility or may be reached by telephone – 0207-947-6200. He, or one of his assistants will be available at any time (‘24/7’). There is a brief explanation of his role in Paragraph 7 of PD 12B of The Family Procedure Rules 2010.
  5. These orders can only be made by a High Court Judge (which includes a Circuit judge with High Court authorisation). It is imperative that any orders that are made should be drafted in the correct form. Once made, they are very effective indeed.
  6. Please also ensure that you are aware of the port alert procedure under PD12F, paragraph 4 of The Family Procedure Rules 2010; it is in the Red Book.
  7. As to section 98 of The Children Act 1989, this is the provision that relates to self incrimination in public law proceedings. It does not apply to private law proceedings. A lawyer acting for a client where the issue of self incrimination might arise must give advice to that client about it. I have been asked for some guidance about the possible wording of a warning that might be given. I do so with some hesitation because I need to stress that the guidance that I am giving is not necessarily the correct terminology for all cases and it therefore remains the duty of individual lawyers and courts to consider the case before them and adapt the wording of any warning that is given. However, with that strong caveat, I have attached some possible draft wording that might be used in a public law case.
  8. Please can you consider that wording. If there are amendments that you think should be made to it please inform me. The wording is as follows:

1. I need to explain to you now a rule of law. It is important that you understand what I am saying. If you do not, you should ask me to explain it to you further.

2. As you know allegations are made against you within these proceedings. These are family proceedings and not criminal proceedings and it is not for this court to decide whether you should be convicted or acquitted of any criminal offences. Within these proceedings however, the court will have to decide whether the allegations made against you by the Local Authority are true or not. If those allegations were shown to be true that would mean that, insofar as these proceedings are concerned, you would have committed misconduct of a criminal nature.

3. I have to warn you therefore that, within these proceedings, you are not permitted to refuse to give evidence or file documentation on the basis that to do so might tend to show that you have engaged in conduct of a criminal nature. When and if you give evidence or file documentation, you may not refuse to answer any questions (or refuse to provide documentary evidence) that might tend to show that you or your spouse (or civil partner) have engaged in such conduct either.

4. If you do give evidence that suggests that you have committed criminal misconduct, that evidence would not be admissible in criminal proceedings against you, except in relation to any prosecution against you for perjury. Section 98(2) of The Children Act 1989 states that that is so. If you were to lie deliberately within these proceedings that could lead to you being prosecuted for perjury and what you had said could be put before the criminal court against you.

5. However, it is important that you understand that, if the court gave permission, anything that you do say or file in these proceedings might be released to the police for them to use during their enquiries into any allegations that you have committed any criminal offence (and by ‘any offence’ I am not referring just to perjury). Further, if you were to be prosecuted there could be applications in the criminal court for the prosecution (or any co-defendant) to cross examine you about anything that you had said in these proceedings. It would be for the criminal court to decide on whether they should be permitted to do so.

6. Your lawyers will explain this warning to you further. It is their duty to do so.

His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC

7th June 2015

News

Guidance for Litigants in Person

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Lawyers bodies have published some guidance for lawyers dealing with litigants in person, for litigants in person on what to expect from lawyers representing other people involved in their case, and to help people who do have lawyers to understand what is expected of their lawyer when dealing with an unrepresented party in the case.

You can find the guidance on the Bar Council website here.

DFJ News News

Free Family Law Class Postponed

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UPDATE – This event has been postponed due to lack of interest, but it is planned that it will be run on a future date. Please contact Rebecca Cobbin if you would like to attend when rescheduled.

 

At 4.30 p.m. on 20th April 2015 local family lawyers (Ben Jenkins, Lucy Reed & Judi Evans) will run a conference that is open to members of the public in which he will explain some of the basic law and procedure that is applied by the family court. The conference will be held at the Civil and Family Justice centre, 2 Redcliff Street, Bristol and will end by 6 p.m. It will not be possible for the lawyers to discuss individual cases, of course, nor will they wish to express any opinions about whether there should be any changes in the law. The intention of the conference is to encourage a better understanding of how the court currently operates and some of the dilemmas that it faces. There will be opportunities for discussion and for questions to be asked. If you wish to attend please can you leave your name, the organisation that you represent (if any) and your contact details by emailing the Family Delivery Manager, Ms Rebecca Cobbin on rebecca.cobbin@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.