The President of the Family Division has praised the work of the Family Justice Young People’s Board.
Made up of around 40 youngsters, the Board was created by Cafcass in 2006 to represent the views of children and young people with personal experience of the family justice system. Cafcass was itself established to promote the welfare of children involved in family law cases.
In his newly published 13th View from the President’s Chambers, Sir James Munby singled out the Board for special praise. The Board’s presentations, in which members outline their personal experiences of the family law courts, were “incredibly powerful and moving” he said. The increasing numbers of judges who have seen the presentations “will know how important it is that we listen to their highly relevant and often thought-provoking views.”
The Board’s second annual conference in July had been an “inspiring occasion”, said the President, and several family law judges had attended. The event was opened by Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes, who spoke about the government’s recently announced plans to allow children over the age of 10 the opportunity to express their views in court.
In his 13th View, Sir James noted:
“Giving the closing address, I stressed the importance of children and young people being given the opportunity to communicate with professionals, including judges and magistrates. I expressed my support for the government initiative.”
The President also referred to a tour of family courts in North Yorkshire undertaken by Board members earlier this year and expressed his support for plans for board members to visit other parts of the country.
Amongst other topics, the President also cited recent judgements highlighting legal aid; issues surrounding the funding of outside experts in relation to the Children and Families Act; and the need for reform of ancillary relief proceedings. Sir James also restated his interest in the abolition of fault-based divorce in England and Wales.
Last year the Family Justice Young Peoples Board helped launch an online video aimed at children caught up in family disputes. The video explained the work of Cafcass and featured interviews with two members of the Board.