Children who are taken into care and separated from their families must be able to see the court judgements when they are adults, the President of the Family Division has declared.
Speaking to the House of Commons Justice Committee, Sir James Munby said failure to routinely publish care proceedings was a “major issue” for children who would be affected by the decision for the rest of their lives.
A “definitive record” was vital, said the President, in order to ensure that:
“…in future years: five years, ten years, twenty years, thirty years or fifty years into the future, a child who may, for example, be subject of adoption proceedings, is able to see what the judge actually said.”
Sir James added:
“My focus immediately is on transparency, disclosure into the public arena but there is an equally important need for the judgements to be made available for the families. That of course has cost implications.”
In January the President issued practice guidance for the family courts stating that judgements should be routinely published.
Sir James told the Committee that this had had a “visible effect” but had been “merely a start” and he planned to further increase transparency in the family courts, ensuring that more judgements must be published and extending requirements for transparency beyond the High Court.