St John’s Family Barristers host “Gripping” Family Justice conference

Kathryn Skellorn

Barristers from our Family law team hosted a Family Justice: universal access and fair process conference on Thursday, 4th December 2014 which included talks from Naomi Mason, Director of Communicourt Ltd and Beth Tarleton, Senior Research Fellow of the Norah Fry Institute.

Due to the recent legislation and cuts to public funding lawyers are now more than ever likely to find themselves dealing with vulnerable litigants who may not have access to independent legal advice or representation. The conference aimed to provide a Sarah Phillimoreconsolidated update of the vital guidance issued to practitioners by The Family Division and the Court of Appeal.

The conference was chaired by Kathryn Skellorn QC and began with Sarah Phillimore providing a general overview of the common problems which can arise when dealing with evidence in family cases. Naomi Mason of Communicourt gave practical examples and real case studies to explain the steps to take to minimise the effects of communication difficulties. Julia Belyavin, a member of our Family Law team, covered dealing with clients and witnesses with English as a foreign language.  Following Julia, Kathryn Skellorn QC covered the implications of the cases QvQ and Re B & Re C [2014] EWFC 31.

Julia BelyavinAfter lunch Beth Tarleton of the Norah Fry Institute discussed supporting parents with learning difficulties and the day ended with speakers hosting workshop sessions focusing on preparing to cross examine a vulnerable witness.

Delegates have described the day as; “One of the most useful courses I have ever attended”, “Exceptional value for money, a very informative course”.

You can download Sarah’s notes here:

For more information on our Family Barristers click here

Family Barrister Matthew Brunsdon Tully successful in Court of Appeal maintenance case

Matthew Brunsdon Tully, a new member of our Family Law team, acted for the successful appellant in the case of Mann v Mann, led by Stephen Trowell.

Matthew Brunsdon TullyThe main issues concerned whether Mr Justice Mostyn had jurisdiction to make certain interim orders, whether for interim periodical payments, or for ‘scheduled court directed part payment of the outstanding lump sum,’ pending the hearing of the wife’s judgment summons.

The interim orders were made in the context of the husband’s failure or inability to pay a lump sum due under a 2005 order of Mr Justice Charles, in which he capitalised the wife’s periodical payments claims.

A second issue concerned whether Mr Justice Mostyn had the power, pursuant to Mubarak, to order that for every £1 the husband paid to his legal team, £1 must be paid to the wife as part payment of the lump sum order.

The Court of Appeal, Macur LJ giving the lead judgment, allowed the appeal, holding that Mr Justice Mostyn had no jurisdiction to make the interim orders he had made:

“There is no interim relief that can be provided in the absence of orders capable of application for variation.”

However the Court of Appeal left open the possibility of £1 for £1 orders being made in similar circumstances, even if the effect of such an order might be to deprive a litigant of representation when his liberty is at stake, albeit in this case the £1 for £1 order was held to relate to an order itself made ultra vires.

View full judgment here

Father denied compensation for psychiatric injury arising out of negligent stillbirth – analysis of Judgment by Claire Leonard

Claire LeonardClaire Leonard , Clinical Negligence Barrister, provides an analysis of the judgment handed down by Michael Kent QC in Wild and another v Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in which a father is denied compensation for psychiatric injury arising out of a negligent still birth.

Mr Wild was present with his wife in hospital when they discovered that their unborn son had died in the womb. The hospital admitted clinical negligence in connection with the noting and recording of the baby’s rate of growth at ante natal appointments and it was agreed that but for the negligence the baby probably would have survived. The Defendant, having settled Mrs Wild’s claim, argued that Mr Wild was entitled to succeed as a secondary victim because he did not satisfy the established control measures in Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police

Claire argues that the judgment highlights the lack of clarity in the decided authorities in respect of liability for secondary victims in stillbirth claims and clinical negligence claims more generally.

View Claire’s judgment analysis here


Susan Hunter, Family Barrister, announced as new Head of Chambers

Susan HunterSt John’s Chambers is very pleased to announce that Susan Hunter, a member of our family law team, has accepted the role of Head of Chambers following her election to the post.

Sue was called to the bar in 1985 and is a specialist family practitioner with extensive experience in family finance proceedings. A barrister for 25 years, Sue moved to St John’s from a London Chambers in 1998 and has extensive experience of appearing in both the High and County Courts.

Sue received high praise in this years Chambers UK “She has got a brilliant style with clients; she cuts straight to the point. She is a very personable barrister and particularly good on sensitive matters.” Chambers UK (2015)

Christopher Sharp QC, head of our Family Law team and former head of Chambers says; “It is great news that Sue has taken on the leadership of Chambers. In the current climate every Head of Chambers finds themselves faced by demanding and changing times in the Law and Sue brings an admirable mix of common sense and ambitious aspiration to the task. Assisted by experience of the world outside the Bar before her legal career, she has a sense of the practicable and pragmatic solution, while her experience of public law and private client work gives her an informed perspective across the wide range of work that Chambers is proud to cover. We are lucky to have her as our new Head”

Sue’s election follows upon Richard Stead stepping down as Head of Chambers after 7 years in the post.

Richard became Head of Chambers in 2008 at a particularly important point in time as Chambers sought to present itself as a modern and forward thinking set that was adapting to the changing practices of litigation. Richard was ideally suited to this not only because he has a strong sense of the history of Chambers but also because he is strongly committed to moving chambers forward so that there is a future for all the junior members which builds on the success of the past.

“Richard is entirely pragmatic, unfussy and decisive whilst retaining empathy and kindness that makes a set of chambers function on a human as well as business level – he will be a very hard act to follow.” Glyn Edwards, personal injury Barrister

This move also sees Glyn Edwards , head of our Personal Injury law team elected as Joint Deputy Head of Chambers together with Leslie Blohm QC, head of our Commercial and Chancery law team.



St John’s Court of Protection Conference judged “Superb”

Barristers from our Court of Protection team spoke at our Court of Protection conference held on 13th November, 2014 at Dartington Hall, Totness. The conference was held in conjunction with Wolferstans Solicitors and sponsored by Charles Stanley, personal investment service.

Alex TroupThe conference was chaired by Samantha Buckthought, of Wolferstans and began with Claire Booth, Director of Westcountry Case Management, looking at the challenges of working as a case manager. Senior Judge Denzil Lush followed with a discussion about whether a family member or a professional should be appointed as a deputy, or indeed if a personal welfare deputy is needed. Sarah Ransom, Operations Manager of Independent Living Solutions, focused on continuing health care funding. Later in the afternoon Alex Troup, a member of our Court of Protection team, considered the extent and limits of a deputy’s authority and Mark Quilter from Charles Stanley finished the conference with a look into the judgments of Wells v Wells and Helmont v Simon.

Richard SteadThe day was broken up by a panel discussion and workshops which were led by Simon Parford of Wolferstans and Alex Troup, Andrew Warlow of Wolferstans and Richard Stead a member of our Personal Injury Law practice group and Claire Booth and Samantha Buckthought.

The one day conference was designed for personal injury and clinical negligence lawyers, private client lawyers and case managers. The day was centred upon a hypothetical case scenario which followed through the day and examined many of the issues that affect Court of Protection claims.

You can download a copy of Alex’s notes here:

For further information on our Court of Protection Barristers click here


Problems arising from lack of legal aid in private law children matters – an update on recent cases

Lucy ReedLucy Reed, a member of our Children Law team, has been acting for a year for the mother’s in the cases of D v K v B (sub nom Re B)  and Re C, previously reported in a conjoined judgment as Q v Q, Re B (A Child), Re C (A Child) [2014] EWFC 31, in which the President mooted the possibility of requiring HM Courts and Tribunals service to meet the costs of legal representation pursuant to the court’s own article 6 ECHR duties under the Human Rights Act 1998 as a public body. Following his conjoined judgment the President has now issued a further judgment in Re (C (A Child) (No 2) [2014] EWFC 44 (21 November 2014)) .

In both cases the mother’s allegations of rape against the father were unable to be tried due to the father being without legal representation, and a particular difficulty was how the father could challenge the evidence of the mother without direct cross examination of her (a scenario which is prohibited by statute in a criminal context).

As reported in the conjoined judgment, the father in Re B was granted exceptional public funding in July whilst the funding application for the father in Re C remained outstanding.

In Re C Lucy prepared extensive arguments concerning the potential and actual breaches to the mother’s article 6, article 8 and article 3 ECHR rights that would arise if the trial proceeded without the father being represented or from continuing delay. Ultimately those arguments were not determined as public funding was granted shortly before the hearing, but the substance of them is rehearsed in an annex to the President’s recent judgment.

View Judgment here: C (A Child) (No 2) [2014] EWFC 44 (21 November 2014)

Glyn Edwards, Personal Injury Barrister, successful in Court of Appeal

Glyn EdwardsGlyn Edwards, a member of our Personal Injury Law team, acted for the defendant in Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary v Hampshire CC.

The Court of Appeal have today handed down a decision in Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary v Hampshire CC which settles a hitherto undecided point of law concerning the limitation periods for contribution proceedings (under section 10 of the Limitation Act 1980).

The claimant was seeking contribution in respect of a personal injury claim he had settled by way of a Part 36 offer and acceptance but did not commence proceedings within 2 years of the acceptance of the Part 36 offer, and so was arguing that the “trigger” date for the limitation period was the date of a consent (Tomlin) order on the basis that section 10(3) takes priority over section 10(4) of the Act. In the alternative, the claimant (whose appeal it was) argued that the two years did not commence until the costs in the first action had been the subject of an order because Contribution Act proceedings allow for the recovery of costs as well as damages paid out.

Glyn acted for the defendant (Respondent) and successfully argued that both limbs of the appeal should fail. It is now decided that where the original action is settled by way of acceptance of a Part 36 offer for damages, that will be the trigger point for the 2 year period to start running – although Jackson LJ expressly did not consider what the position would be in the event of a settlement achieved outside the Part 36 regime, and this remains open for consideration in future it seems.

The Court of Appeal also rejected the idea that the time did not start to run until the costs of the original action had been determined as it was unimpressed by the idea of introducing potential delay at this juncture.

View full judgment here: Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary v Hampshire CC

Robin Tolson QC appointed Circuit Judge

Robin Tolson QCRobin Tolson QC, a member of our Family Law Practice Group, has been appointed to be a Circuit Judge on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, the Right Honourable Chris Grayling MP. He was sworn in at noon of 17th November 2014 at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Robin became silk in 2001 and was Leader of the Western Circuit for 3 years between 2007 and 2010. He is recognised as one of the county’s leading specialists in all aspects of the law relating to children and families.

During his time in silk Robin represented amongst many others the children in Re: S; Re: W – the ‘starred care plans’ case; the Williams’ family in their ground-breaking civil action for wrongful removal of their children; and the mother in Re: C in which the Court of Appeal approved the award of damages for breach of human rights in family cases. Robin also appeared for Natalie Evans in her well publicised fight for the use of her stored embryos.

This year Robin was recommended in Chambers UK (2015) as “particularly adept in sensitive and complex children’s proceedings.”

Christopher Sharp QC, head of our Family Practice Group said “Robin was a welcome addition to the St John’s team when he moved from London and has had a well deserved reputation for fearlessly advocating the interests of his clients, not only in the South West and Wales but throughout the country. As Leader of the Circuit he provided valuable input into Circuit and national debates from the perspective of the family practitioner. We will miss his contribution to chambers and wish him well in his new career.”

Whilst Robins contribution will be missed, our Family Practice Group continues to provide a high level of advocacy across the country. “St John’s Chambers continues to show considerable expertise in its family practice. The high-calibre family barristers at the set represent all parties in family law matters. Furthermore, client satisfaction is noteworthy at both silk and junior level.”  Chambers UK, (2015)

Robin has been deployed to the South Eastern Circuit, based at Oxford Combined Court Centre with effect from 17th November 2014.

Nothin’ goin’ but the rent: Article from John Sharples

John SharplesJohn Sharples, a member of our Property and Real Estate team, discusses the Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery scheme in his article published by the New Law Journal in March 2014.

John discusses how the Commercial Arrears Recovery scheme abolishes the existing law of distress and regulates when and how a landlord who is owed rent can seize and, if necessary, sell his tenant’s goods.

John suggests that “the search for fairness has resulted in a scheme that many landlords will be reluctant to use.” And that Landlords, tenants, managing agents and their legal representatives must all familiarise themselves with the new rules.

View Article: Nothin’ goin’ but the rent.

St John’s Welcomes new members Adam Boyle and Jack Harris

St John’s Chambers is pleased to welcome Adam Boyle and Jack Harris as members of our Commercial and Chancery and Family teams respectively.

Adam BoyleAdam is a Commercial and Chancery specialist and accepts instructions in all areas of Commercial and Chancery law focusing on property work, wills and probate cases and contractual and commercial disputes.

He joined Chambers in October 2014 on successful completion of his pupillage, he read Philosophy at Corpus Christi College Cambridge and came to the Bar after working in business development and consultancy in London. He was graded Outstanding on the BPTC and was awarded a Distinction on the GDL.

“We are delighted to welcome Adam as a member of our Chancery Commercial Department. He is not only a first rate lawyer but also a charming personality, and we have no doubt that he will develop a flourishing practice at St John’s.” Alex Troup

Jack HarrisJack is a Family practitioner and is developing a broad court-based practice. He accepts instructions in all aspects of family law including financial remedy proceedings (formerly ‘ancillary relief’), Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 applications; public and private law Children Act 1989 disputes; injunctive relief where domestic violence is alleged; Inheritance Act 1975 claims and TOLATA disputes.

After reading law at Queen Mary, University of London Jack joined the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and undertook the BPTC at The City Law School. He joined Chambers in October 2014 on successful completion of his pupillage.

“The Family Team are really pleased to welcome Jack who has already proved himself immensely able and flexible in meeting the complex needs of our clients. He will be a great asset.” Christopher Sharp QC

View profiles: Adam Boyle
View profiles: Jack Harris