Judges of the Business and Property Courts in Bristol
Supervising judge of the BPC in Bristol: Mr Justice Zacaroli
Mr Justice Zacaroli was called to the Bar in 1987 and took silk in 2006. He was appointed a Justice of the High Court, Chancery Division, in November 2017. He was President of the Upper Tribunal, Tax and Chancery Chamber from 2018 to 2022 and continues to sit as a judge of that tribunal.
He was appointed as Chair of the Insolvency Rules Committee in 2018. He sits as a chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, and is authorised to sit as a judge of the Financial List and as a judge of the Patents Court.
He was appointed Business and Property Courts Supervising Judge for the Midland, Western and Wales Circuits in November 2021.
Other High Court judges, and deputy High Court judges, sit in Bristol from time to time as the work requires.
Resident Chancery Judge, authorised to sit in the High Court: HHJ Paul Matthews
HHJ Paul Matthews was educated at St Peter’s School, Bournemouth, and read law at University College London, before postgraduate study at Oxford. He was originally an academic lawyer but went into practice, eventually becoming a partner in a niche firm of litigation solicitors in the City of London.
Subsequently he combined practice as a consultant at a large private client firm with lecturing at King’s College London. In 1996 he was awarded the degree of LLD by the University of London, based on examination of his published work. He has held visiting appointments at St Edmund Hall Oxford, the City University, the University of Aix-Marseille, the Institute of Law in Jersey and the University of Liechtenstein.
In 2002 he was appointed Coroner for the City of London. In 2008 he became a deputy master of the High Court, Chancery Division, in 2010 he was appointed a Recorder, in 2014 a judge of the Court of Trusts and Fiduciary Relations of the Republic of San Marino (all part-time). Then, in 2015 he became a fulltime chancery master.
He is the author or co-author of a number of works, including Trusts: Migration and Change of Proper Law, Trust and Estate Disputes, The Jersey Law of Trusts, The Jersey Law of Property, Matthews and Malek on Disclosure, Underhill and Hayton’s Law of Trusts and Trustees, and Jervis on Coroners. He was formerly an editor of Hill and Redman’s Law of Landlord and Tenant. He has a strong interest in comparative law.
Resident Circuit Commercial and TCC Judge, authorised to sit in the High Court: HHJ Russen KC
HHJ Jonathan Russen KC became the Circuit Commercial Court and TCC Judge in the Bristol Business & Property Courts upon his appointment to the bench as a Specialist Civil Circuit Judge in October 2017. He also holds a section 9 Chancery ticket. He regularly sits in the Circuit Commercial Court and TCC in London.
He was educated at his local comprehensive school in South Wales before reading law as an undergraduate at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth followed by postgraduate study at Cambridge University. He was called to the Bar in 1986 and practised in the fields of Chancery and Commercial litigation from London chambers between 1988 and 2017. He took silk in 2010 and was called to the bar in a number of offshore jurisdictions.
He is the co-author of Financial Services Litigation (OUP, 2020) and the contributor of a number of chapters in Civil Fraud: Law, Practice and Procedure (Sweet & Maxwell, 2019).
Designated Civil Judge: HHJ Leslie Blohm KC
HHJ Leslie Blohm KC was appointed the Designated Civil Judge for Avon Somerset and Gloucester, based in Bristol, on his appointment to the bench as a Senior Circuit Judge in October 2022. He holds a section 9 Chancery ticket.
The first member of his family to attend higher education, he was educated at Christ’s Hospital and Keble College Oxford, and was called to the bar in 1982. From 1984 he practised from chambers in Bristol, initially with a general practice, but latterly specialising in property litigation.
He was appointed a Recorder in 2003 and took silk in 2006. He is a member of the editorial board of The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer, and is a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn.
Other circuit judges include (from November 2022) HHJ Michael Berkley, authorised to sit in the High Court:
HHJ Berkley was educated at a state school and (what is now) London Guildhall University.
After pupillage in London, and practising for a few years as a tenant in Exeter, in 1997 he founded and was Head of Chambers at Rougemont Chambers, which later merged with another set, to become Magdalen Chambers.
At the Bar, HHJ Berkley practised in commercial and chancery work, being appointed Junior Counsel to the Crown in 2006.
HHJ Berkley was appointed a civil-only Recorder in 2010, and then a civil Circuit Judge in 2018. He has sat in the Winchester cluster covering the whole region, undertaking as the bulk of his work, chancery, commercial and professional negligence. In 2020 HHJ Berkley was authorised to act as a Judge of the High Court pursuant to s9(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 in both the Chancery and Queen’s Bench Divisions, and he has exercised that jurisdiction on a regular basis since then, mostly in the BPC. From 1 November 2022, HHJ Berkley will be based at the CFJC in Bristol.
BPC District Judges
DJ Woodburn was born and raised in Bristol of Jamaican heritage. He qualified as a solicitor in 1981 and practised in Civil and Commercial Litigation in Bristol for almost 30 years, holding roles as Partner and Managing Partner.
He was Assistant Deputy Coroner for Avon and also a Deputy District Judge [Western Circuit] each from 1993 until January 2011 when he was appointed a District Judge (Civil) and deployed to Liverpool Civil and Family Court, where he sat until 2014. During his time on Merseyside, he was assigned as a Chancery District Judge and was appointed Regional Costs Judge, a role currently retained.
On a transfer back to the West, he was assigned to sittings in Somerset, Gloucestershire and, since 2018 returning to Bristol Civil and Family Courts.
His (very busy) Business and Property caseload includes insolvency misfeasance as well as contested director’s disqualifications, disputed probate and estates administration claims (including that rare beast, fraudulent calumny). He is also an assigned Intellectual Property Enterprise Court Judge for the South West and conducts trials in relatively low value intellectual property disputes.
He enjoys team sports, especially rugby union (a personal passion) – which is now avidly watched but certainly not played.
DJ Taylor was called to the Bar in 1982 and practised in Bristol Chambers specialising in clinical negligence and high value personal injury claims. He was appointed Deputy District Judge in 2004 and full time District Judge in 2018. He transferred from Gloucester County Court to Bristol Civil Justice Centre in 2020 and was assigned to the Business and Property Courts in addition to siting in other areas of civil and family jurisdiction. He also sits as a Judge of the Court of Protection.
DJ Jan Markland joined the Bristol Business and Property Court on 1 November 2021 at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre, having been appointed as a full time District Judge in April 2020. She previously sat in the Civil and Family Court at Southampton and previously on the Midlands circuit as a Deputy District Judge. She has over 20 years’ experience in civil litigation; specialising as a solicitor in high value complex personal injury and clinical negligence litigation.
DJ Wendy Brown joined the Business and Property Courts in Bristol on 1 November 2021 at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre, having been appointed as a full time District Judge in February 2020. She previously sat in the Civil and Family Courts in Bath, Taunton and Gloucester and wider afield on the western circuit as a Deputy District Judge. She has over 20 years’ experience in civil litigation; specialising as a solicitor in high value complex clinical negligence litigation.
District Judge Wales was called to the bar in 1993 and practised as a barrister from chambers in Bristol, litigating predominantly in the fields of property, trusts, probate and insolvency. He was appointed as a Deputy District Judge in 2010, and as a District Judge in 2021. He sits as a specialist Business and Property District Judge in Bristol.