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In conversation with…His Honour Judge Chris Simmonds and Her Honour Judge Gaynor Lloyd

During this conversation, we’ll be talking to HHJ Chris Simmonds, Designated Family Judge for Dorset, and HHJ Gaynor Lloyd, Designated Family Judge for North Wales, about the private law Pathfinder pilots being implemented in family courts in their areas.

These pilots, funded by MOJ and designed in consultation with a wide range of family justice experts, are intended to trial an investigative and problem-solving approach to private law proceedings, with a particular focus on improving court responses to domestic abuse and enhancing the voice of the child within proceedings. Since March 2022, family courts in Bournemouth and Weymouth in Dorset, and Caernarfon, Mold, Prestatyn and Wrexham in North Wales, have been piloting this new approach.

The changes in this new model include more in-depth initial information being gathered by Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru, and this includes speaking to children before the first hearing in most cases. There is also a focus on better integration of agencies beyond the courts, such as those specialising in domestic abuse or mediation, to give the best response to families.

Join us as we talk to HHJ Chris Simmonds and HHJ Gaynor Lloyd about the elements of the pilot that are proving most effective from their perspectives; the challenges and issues that have emerged and how they have been addressed; and the opportunities for further development and innovation.

Questions from the audience are welcomed before and during the discussion – this online talk will be recorded and added to the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory’s Events page and YouTube channel shortly afterwards.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory aims to find and fill knowledge gaps, highlight areas where change will have the biggest impact and foster collaboration to make that change happen. Find out more here.

Watch the discussion


  • Headshot of Jude Eyre.
    Associate Director for Strategy and Delivery
    Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • Headshot of HHJ Chris Simmonds
    HHJ Chris Simmonds
    Designated Family Judge for Dorset
  • Headshot of HHJ Gaynor Lloyd
    HHJ Gaynor Lloyd
    Designated Family Judge for North Wales