Sophie Smith-Holland wins award for Bar Council’s Law Reform Essay Competition 2017

Sophie Smith-Holland, pupil barrister within our Family Practice Group, has won the “Highly Commended” £500 prize for the Bar Council’s Law Reform Essay Competition 2017. Entrants were asked to submit an essay no longer than 3000 words identifying and making a case for a law reform that is desirable, practical and useful. The winning essay titled “It’s not you… and it’s not me, either”: The case for no-fault divorce in England and Wales” will be published on the Bar Council’s website shortly, following her success Sophie will be attending the Law Reform Lecture in London to collect the award on the 15 December 2017.

The Bar Council’s Law Reform Essay Competition is an annual event aimed at developing and fostering an interest in law reform in pupils, law students, CPE/GDL students, BPTC students and those aiming for a career at the Bar.The Bar Council 2017

Many congratulations to Sophie on this achievement

St John’s Chambers welcomes Family Law and Court of Protection barrister Caroline Elford

Called to the bar in 2002 Caroline Elford joins St John’s Chambers’ Family Practice Group from Queen Square, Bristol.

Caroline is a specialist family practitioner who practises in all areas of family law with a strong emphasis on care proceedings and a special interest in matters of family finance. Her practice in this area has given her a detailed knowledge of the appropriate procedural law and she is known for her effectiveness as an advocate and a lawyer in technical applications. She also takes instructions in respect of Court of Protection matters.

Judi Evans, Head of the Family Practice Group said: “We are delighted to welcome Caroline to St John’s Chambers. Caroline adds further strength and depth to our Family Team and will ensure we can continue to offer our clients fantastic cover at all levels – she is well known and highly experienced, and has proved herself to be popular with instructing solicitors and lay clients alike.”

If you would like to discuss instructing Caroline, please contact her clerks on 0117 923 4720 or email

View profile: Caroline Elford

St John’s Chambers Family Practice achieves a Band 1 ranking as a set for the Western Circuit in Chambers and Partners UK 2018

St John’s Chambers Children and Finance team is said to be a highly regarded set which offers an impressive group of family barristers with a fine track record in an array of complex disputes. Our Members are frequently instructed in financial remedy cases involving international assets for married and unmarried couples. The set also remains a strong choice for private law children proceedings and jurisdictional disputes in relation to private law children. One satisfied instructing solicitor states: “They are a strong chambers with some very robust, heavyweight individuals, and an excellent reputation, both in relation to finance and children work.”

Our two family silks, Christopher Sharp QC and Kathryn Skellorn QC have been recognised within the Chambers and Partners UK 2018 guide, Christopher, ranked as a ‘Star Individual’ “is worthy of every accolade as he has superb client handling skills and a second-to-none intellect. “His attention to detail and grasp of information in a case is second to none. His ability to forensically dissect the most complicated finance case and present it in a clear and persuasive way is to be marvelled at.” Christopher is hugely respected for his experience of representing high net worth clients in major ancillary relief and TOLATA cases. He regularly acts in matters with an international element to them.

With Kathryn Skellorn, achieving a Band 3 rankings and described as “She is just the full package: she is exceptionally bright, she has a very good demeanour with clients, and her advocacy is very persuasive.” “Her forensic approach to cases is seriously impressive.” Kathryn specialises in handling complicated children work in both a public and a private context. Her cases frequently concern highly sensitive and difficult issues, as well as complex medical elements. A number of them concern brain trauma, torture, sexual abuse and child death. She also regularly handles disputes regarding surrogacy and same-sex parenthood.

One of our juniors, Jack Harris has been noted as an ‘Up and Coming’ individual who is highlighted for his strong work in family finance. “He is hot on the button, presents well to clients and gets great results.”

In addition, a number of our juniors within the family practice team have been equally successful in the public law, private law and finance spheres; Nick Miller, senior junior whose practice at the Bar is bolstered by his ten years’ previous experience as a solicitor has been ranked as a Band 1 junior. Andrew Commins, known for representing high net worth clients on significant matrimonial finance issues, and experience at handling cases involving pensions, companies and trusts and Susan Hunter, Head of Chambers, who focuses her practice on financial remedy issues and is especially skilled at advising on cases involving third-party interests, whilst also acting for clients in private children cases have both been listed as Band 2 juniors.

Six more of our juniors have also been ranked within family/matrimonial in the Chambers and Partners UK 2018 guide; Jody Atkinson focuses his practice on matrimonial finance issues, and is skilled at taking on inheritance and probate cases, whilst being active in matters related to child support. In public and private law; Catriona Duthie, practises across the full spectrum of family law matters, and is best known for her work acting for clients in private and public children law matters. Judi Evans, who heads up the family practice group, enjoys a solid reputation for her work in the public sphere including care, particularly on non-accidental injury cases. Richard Norman acts in a wide variety of family law matters, including those concerning financial remedies following relationship breakdowns and complicated private children cases. Lucy Reed specialises in children work, and is able to act for clients on a wide variety of public and private cases. She regularly advises on matters involving challenging or vulnerable parties, such as parents with substance abuse or mental health issues, and children with disabilities and learning difficulties. Zoë Saunders is best known for her work on cohabitation disputes, including TOLATA and Schedule 1 applications. She is also skilled at taking on matrimonial finance litigation, handling cases concerning pension, insolvency and land issues.

If you would like to instruct any of our family barristers, please contact their clerks: or 0117 923 4720

Pupil barrister Harriet Dudbridge interviewed by Legal Voice

Pupil barrister, Harriet Dudbridge has recently joined our Family team as a Justice First Fellow after spending the first year of the fellowship with the Bar Pro Bono Unit. The publication Legal Voice has interviewed Harriet documenting what attracted her to the Justice First Fellowship and her experience so far.

For the full article please click here

View profile: Harriet Dudbridge 

If you would like to instruct Harriet, please contact her clerks: or 0117 923 4720

St John’s Chambers providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’

We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers has been recommended as a Top Tier Set in the Western Circuit’s Leading Set by The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017.

For one solicitor, St John’s Chambers is ‘one of the leading sets in the South West’, providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’. We specialise in civil matters and have been noted for our strength in commercial, construction, family, personal injury, clinical negligence, regulatory and public law matters. Inquests and inquiries is another key area for our Chambers’.

Three of our QCs are listed in the Western Circuits “Leading silks” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding silks nationwide.

Christopher Sharp QC, Family and children law & personal injury and clinical negligence, “He has a brilliant mind that understands the intricacies of any case.”

Leslie Blohm QC, Commercial, banking, insolvency, Chancery law and Property, “He is very grounded but has an air of absolute authority.”

Kathryn Skellorn QC, Family and children law, “Clients are in awe of her.”

In addition to the success of our QC’s, 38 of our barristers are listed in the “Leading juniors” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding juniors nationwide.

To view further details on our Chambers’ listings please click here

Asha Pearce-Groves summarises court sanctioned experimental stem cell treatment case for the brain injury of an incapacitated adult

Specialist family law barrister, Asha Pearce-Groves, summarises a recent case where the court sanctioned experimental stem cell treatment for the brain injury of an adult that lacked capacity.

The summary has been published on Family Law Week and can be viewed by clicking here.

St John’s is a premier family law set with a roster of experienced advocates. Members undertake family cases of all levels and complexity. The set earns a wealth of positive feedback from clients, who are highly appreciative of the fantastic service they receive.” Chambers UK, Family/Matrimonial (2016)

If you would like to instruct Asha on a related matter, please contact her clerks on 0117 923 4720 or e-mail 

Lucy Reed appears on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show

Lucy Reed, member of our Family team, appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show last Friday, discussing the impact of revisions to Practice Direction 12J on how the Family Court will deal with child contact cases involving allegations of domestic abuse. See the segment here found on BBC iPlayer by skipping to exactly 15 minutes into the show.

See Lucy’s post on PD12J for The Transparency Project by clicking here.

Latest article from Abigail Bond and Iain Large ‘What do children lawyers need to know about the Court of Protection?’ [2017] Fam Law 537 – 542

Abigail BondBarrister Abigail Bond and pupil barrister Iain Large, members of our Family team, have recently published an article called ‘What do children lawyers need to know about the Court of Protection?’ in this month’s Family Law Journal. The article highlights the issues arising when a local authority in care proceedings seeks to deprive a child of liberty in a manner falling short of secure accommodation, and offers a road map to aid understanding of this complex area.

For the full article please see the link below.

Read the full article: What do children lawyers need to know about the Court of Protection? [2017] Fam Law 537 – 542

View profile: Abigail Bond & Iain Large

If you would like to instruct Abigail or Iain, please contact their clerks: or 0117 923 4720

Asha Pearce-Groves reviews the summary assessment of costs in relation to applications for declarations of parentage in a recent case

Asha Pearce-Groves, family law barrister, reviews the recent case of Cases F and H No. 2 [2017] EWHC 964 (Fam) in Family Law Week.

To read the full summary on the Family Law Week website, see:

View profile: Asha Pearce-Groves


If you would like to discuss instructing Asha Pearce-Groves, please contact the clerks on 0117 923 4720 or e-mail 

Barrister Lucy Reed speaks about transparency in the family justice system on Radio 4’s Today Programme

Lucy Reed appeared on the Today Programme regarding lack of judgements being published due to the “enormous pressure on judges” and their time, acknowledging this is due in part to the volume of work in the justice system, particularly in care cases.

New research from Cardiff University’s School of Law and Politics suggests that guidance given to judges to routinely publish their judgments is not being consistently followed, leaving the public with a limited understanding of the family justice system in England and Wales, and Lucy appeared on the Today Programme to discuss this.

To read a fuller article, please click here.

Lucy is the Chair of The Transparency Project, a charity which aims to promote transparency of Family Courts in England and Wales. For further information visit the project’s website.

Lucy Reed is an experienced family law barrister who won the Bristol Law Society ‘Barrister of the Year 2016′ award, in recognition of her family law expertise and her charitable work.