Do you have a question for a senior Family Law judge? Free family law session

Following the success of the first free family law session at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre in October of last year, a second free Bristol family law session is planned to take place on Wednesday 20 January 2016 from 18:00-20:00 at the University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Bristol.

The event is aimed at anyone interested in finding out more about the Family Court, all professionals working in the field of family law, journalists and students.

Join HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC, designated family judge for the Bristol area, and a panel of experts to hear about the work of the Family Court and what to do if you are faced with a personal or family disagreement.

Following feedback from the first event, new topics and speakers have been added and the question and answer session will be extended to promote further debate.

The topics covered will include:

  • How to access help and support if faced with a personal or family disagreement
  • The role and work of the Social Worker
  • The role and work of the Guardian
  • How decisions are made about children

You will have an opportunity to ask questions about the practice of the Family Court. The panel of experts will include:

  • HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC, Designated Family Judge
  • Sarah Stott, Cafcass
  • Patrick Moreno, Senior Lecturer at UWE, specialising in children’s social work
  • Louise Tickle, Journalist
  • Judi Evans, Barrister, St John’s Chambers
  • Lucy Reed, St John’s Chambers
  • Sarah Phillimore, St John’s Chambers
  • Zahid Hussain, Barrister, St John’s Chambers
  • Emma Whewell, Senior Lecturer in Law, UWE

Register now

You may apply for a place here.

Registration and refreshments will be available from 18:00. The event will start at 18:30 and finish at 20:00.

For more information visit; the site is aimed at people who are involved in or may be involved in a case in the Family Court in this area (Bristol, Weston, Gloucester and Bath). It sets out the range of help that is available locally, and provides basic information about how the Family Court works.

Information about parking etc is on the UWE site.

Cost: Free
Contact: Emma Whewell
Telephone: +44 (0)117 328 3897

Banging my head against my virtual desk is giving me an actual headache


Just received new guidance on use of email to communicate with HMCTS. No doubt this is not unconnected to the recent announcements about selling off all court buildings and holding court in a pop up tent under the escalators in the nearest shopping mall to the child’s place of residence. Virtual = virtuous.

First reaction (as I start to read the bit on exemptions to the requirement to use secure email) : yay, this seems to be a loosening up of the previously unworkable rules which required the use of secure email by all senders and recipients, thereby excluding LiPs from being able to use emails.

Second reaction (as I get past the first sentence) : oh, give me strength…

This is what it says :

All Civil and Family process, applications and documents will be accepted by email as long as when the entire email is printed out it is not more than 50 pages. This should include the email, all attachments (including any documents embedded in another) and enough copies to serve on required parties (excluding Local Authorities, CAFCASS and CAFCASS CYMRU for Family cases only).

Let’s just stop and think about this shall we?

A C100, used to commence most proceedings relating to children, runs to 24 pages, excluding the response pack, the C1A, any rider sheets… Any email these days has a mandatory 2 pages of tail end including disclaimers and the like.

Now I stopped doing money work when I realised numbers were not my forte, but even I can see that two times 26 is more than 50 pages (one for the court, one for the other party). Obviously the problem is greater where there are more parties (Although service on the LA / CAFCASS doesn’t count).

Other common applications and documents include non-mol applications (10 pages plus statement in support), part 25 application (C2 form 8 pages, plus CV say 5 pages, pro forma re expert willingness and availability 2 pages, letter of instruction say 5 pages, draft order say 6 pages = 26 pages (more if more than one cv provided)).

So, we can see that in this instance “all” is roughly equivalent to “a very very few”. I am guessing that the civil servant who devised the C100 form and the civil servant who devised this new more flexible policy sit at opposite ends of a very big, grey office somewhere in Petit France. They should make time to discuss this over coffee sometime…or better still, skype each other so they don’t have to meet in real life.

Oh yes, here is the document, which I received by email so I can’t give you a link to it.

To CAP it all off…

[NEWSFLASH!! I now have word versions sent from the court, so we can count these as official. Herewith:





I’m NOT NOT NOT going to rant about the rubbish media coverage of the Single Family Court today. *grumpyface*

I am simply going to assist the court in furthering the overriding objective (free and gratis) by making the CAP forms available, since nobody appears to be able to find them online. *sardonic grin*

After all, we wouldn’t want the transition to be anything less than seamless….

CAP01 (Directions on allocation / gatekeeping)

CAP02 (Order at FHDRA* / Directions)

CAP03 (Order at DRA**)

CAP04 (Final order)

You’re welcome, Single Family Court. *martyr face*

NB : It is possible that these documents are working drafts, which accounts for the fact nobody has been able to locate them online – if I find that to be the case I will update this post. They should be a useful working tool for those in court in the meantime (although not as useful as if they were in .doc format and we could actually edit them for drafting purposes!).

* first hearing dispute resolution appointment

** dispute resolution appointment