Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, has endorsed government plans to give children a greater say in family proceedings.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice said children over the age of 10 would be given a greater opportunity to express their views during court cases which involved them or their families. Justice Minister Simon Hughes announced that they would “have their views heard before decisions are made about their future, and where decisions are made that will impact them.”
Now, speaking at the annual conference of the Cafcass-affiliated Family Justice Young Peoples Board, Sir James has approved the concept. He stressed the importance of children and young people being given the chance to communicate with all professionals involved in family law cases, up to and including magistrates and judges. The latter should consider the best way to convey their decision to the children, he said.
The newly announced Ministry of Justice initiative would place children at the heart of the family justice system the President added.
Sir James also referred to Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group, which is currently considering the issues surrounding involvement of children in family proceedings, including the giving of evidence and meeting judges.
He said: “Joined up debate about all this is needed and I hope to have something for public consultation well before the end of the year.”