Mr Justice Birss is the Business and Property Courts Supervising Judge for the Western Circuit. He works closely with the Presiding Judges for the Western Circuit, Mr Justice Dingemans and Mrs Justice May DBE.
The Resident Judges of the Business and Property Courts are Senior Circuit Judges who sit principally in Bristol but also from time to time at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They are each authorised to sit as Judges of the High Court in all the jurisdictions of the Business and Property Courts. In addition, substantial High Court cases may be listed before a High Court Judge, who may be Mr Justice Birss.
Business and Property Courts work in the County Court may be listed before one of the Resident Judges or, if so authorised by a Resident Judge in an appropriate case, before a Recorder with relevant specialist expertise or a Specialist District Judge.
Mr Justice Dingemans
Sir James Dingemans was called to the Bar in 1987 (Inner Temple). His practise included constitutional law, international arbitrations and general common law. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2002. He was chairman of the International Committee of the Bar Council from 2009-2011.
He was appointed a High Court Judge in 2013 and is the Senior Presiding Judge of the Western Circuit.
Mrs Justice May DBE
Dame Juliet May was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1988, becoming a bencher in 2010. She practiced from commercial chambers in Gray’s Inn, specialising in insurance, reinsurance and professional negligence. She became a recorder in 2001, a chair of Mental Health Tribunals in 2002 and took silk in 2008, being appointed to the Circuit Bench later the same year.
Mrs Justice May was appointed to the High Court Bench (Queen’s Bench Division) in December 2015. She is a Presiding Judge on the Western Circuit.
His Honour Judge Cotter Q.C.
Barry Cotter was called to the Bar in 1985 and started tenancy at Old Square Chambers in Lincoln’s Inn in 1986. He developed a broad common law/commercial practice eventually specialising in multi party actions and taking silk in 2006 (and winning a barrister of the year award in 2009).
He has written text books on product liability and employers’ liability law.
He became a Recorder in 2002 ( criminal and civil work), Deputy High Court Judge in 2010, Designated Civil Judge and Technology and Construction Judge for Devon and Cornwall in 2010 and Designated Civil Judge for Avon, Somerset & Gloucestershire in 2017.
He is authorised to sit in High Court to hear Queens Bench Division, circuit commercial, technology and construction, chancery and administrative (including planning) cases.
He is a Judicial College tutor, a visiting fellow at Bristol University and was appointed to the Civil Justice Council in 2016.
HHJ Paul Matthews
Paul Matthews was a law lecturer at UCL from 1979 to 1983, and has held visiting appointments at KCL since 1991 (currently as professor). He also 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.
He was originally called to the Bar in 1981 but cross-qualified to be admitted a solicitor in 1987, practising in the fields of chancery and commercial litigation, first with Hopkins & Wood, and then with Withers.
He became a deputy coroner in 1994, a solicitor-advocate in 2001, coroner in 2002, a deputy chancery master in 2008, a recorder (civil) in 2010, a judge of the Court of Trusts and Fiduciary Relations of the Republic of San Marino in 2014, and a chancery master in 2015. He was appointed a specialist civil circuit judge (chancery) in February 2017, and assigned to the Western Circuit at Bristol. He is authorised also for circuit commercial court work.
He is an author or editor of Underhill & Hayton on Trusts and Trustees, Matthews and Malek on Disclosure, Trust and Estate Disputes, Trusts: Migration and Change of Proper Law, The Jersey Law of Trusts, Jersey Property Law, and Jervis on Coroners, amongst other works.
HHJ Jonathan Russen QC
Jonathan Russen was called to the Bar in 1986 and practised from chambers in Lincoln’s Inn for almost thirty years in the field of chancery and commercial litigation, the last twenty of them from Maitland Chambers. He took silk in 2010. His practice extended to overseas litigation (and calls to the Bar in offshore jurisdictions) and to advisory work.
He was appointed a specialist civil circuit judge (commercial) in October 2017, and assigned to the Western Circuit at Bristol. He is authorised also for chancery and technology and construction court work.
He is the author of Financial Services: a Litigator’s Guide and a contributor to Civil Fraud: Law, Practice and Procedure.
District Judge Cope
Stephanie Cope was a solicitor until 2008, and then a barrister at St John’s chambers, before being appointed in 2012.
District Judge Cronin
Tacey Cronin was a member of Albion Chambers in Bristol for 25 years before being appointed in 2010, initially to Swindon, transferring to Bristol in 2017. She is a trained mediator.
District Judge Howell
Richard Howell was a solicitor, latterly as managing partner of his firm, in Bristol for 25 years before being appointed a district judge in 2010, initially to Aldershot, transferring to Bristol in 2011. He is a trained mediator.
District Judge Rowe
Lucinda Rowe practised as a solicitor before being appointed to the district bench in 2006.
District Judge Watkins
Myles Watkins practised as a barrister for 18 years in London, then Bristol, before being appointed District Judge in 2008.
District Judge Watson
Brian Watson practised as a barrister in Bristol for 25 years, before being appointed a district judge in 2005.