Sir James Munby announces retirement plans

Family Law|February 13th 2017

The nation’s most senior family judge has announced plans to step down next year.

Sir James Munby, who will turn 69 in July, has been President of the Family Division since January 2013, taking over the role from Sir Nicholas Wall. A spokesman for the judiciary has now announced that he will retire in 18 months’ time.

During his time as President, Sir James has become well known for his forthright views on a variety of legal topics, along with the publication of regular bulletins known as the View from the President’s Chambers. In the most recent of these he complained about the use of antiquated video equipment in the High Court amongst other topics.

Sir James has been also been an enthusiastic proponent of reform across the English legal system and outspoken on such issues as the protection of vulnerable witnesses and the transparency of family court proceedings.

His successor is unlikely to be announced before next year. A decision will be made by a selection panel made up of senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice.

Sir James is a former barrister who became a QC in 1988 and a High Court Judge in 2000. He served as Chair of the Law Commission prior to his appointment as President.

Photo by morebyless via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

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  1. keith says:

    very sad to hear this.
    who will speak out and challenge the shady business of the secret family courts and corrupt local authorities now.
    probably nobody.

  2. Andre says:

    Sir James Munby started by declaring he was going to remove the cloud of secrecy hanging over the family court, but he very soon forgot and shifted to:

    – Expanding the definition of domestic violence & abuse to include almost any argument or disagreement a couple might have;

    – This automatically qualified almost any allegation of domestic abuse or violence for legal aid;

    – Finally he suggested that alleged domestic violence and abuse perpetrators would be totally deprived of their human right Article 6 – to litigate in person and thus abandon any possibility of a fair trial!

    Many things can be said about Putin’s Russia, but this level of insanity would never prevail there!

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Andre
      Thanks for your comment. It has been edited and the offensive comment removed. It is our policy not to post offensive remarks. It is possible to make a valid point without them.

      • Stitchedup says:

        And the points made are indeed valid. It appears Munby became infatuated with Polly Neate and was well and truly bitten by the DV hysteria bug.

      • JamesB says:

        I remember doing similar when Sir Nicholas Wall retired. I don’t take back what I said about him (Wall) and I don’t think this person was any better. Perhaps the role is a poisoned chalice. I don’t blame them for my divorce and not seeing my children while being forced to pay for the dubious honour through no fault of my own? Yes, them and Cafcass. The figurehead of a morally bankrupt organisation. If the whole thing is rotten you start again from scratch else we have the same thing in four years time with someone else losing it and being edited and perhaps Andre saying what I say here and the other men also chipping in, that is if the declining number of marriages and therefore divorces sadly doesn’t turn the role administrative only and everyone starts living in flats.

        • JamesB says:

          Rant over for now. House purchase fell through so not in a good mood. Hearing that . Looking forward to some good news soon. Can’t get a buyer for my place, funny that (not ha ha) since all my money went and goes to my ex so cant do it up and current wife is not happy about that. So hearing that he was opening up the courts or reforming (I haven’t seen that) set me off. As say hoping for some good news soon.

        • JamesB says:

          I meant, do I blame them for my dodgy divorce and being stitchedup? Yes, I suppose I do, them and cafcass and csa/cmec/cms/cmoptions. Could and should have been done a lot better if not done at all as I am not convinced it was for the best. Remember having a conversation with someone once who’s ex committed suicide after being stitchedup by family court, she asked me if it were her fault, I said no, I blame the court for the stitchup. Like I don’t blame my ex for me being stitchedup (her solicitor always thought it strange me lack of animosity to her compared with my animosity to the court, then again solicitors can often be patronising and condescending).

          • JamesB says:

            Now rant really over. Hoping for a better president next time and some better reforms by Government and the judiciary in this family law space soon.

  3. JamesB says:

    If the role is important and I suggest family law is important, can we have someone a lot younger next time as the role needs to do something in that space as that space is struggling. It seems from the last two that it is for people half on way to retirement.

    70 years is a long time for a brain to be sweated. Wouldn’t run a precision machine maxed out that long. For example Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine, recent performance seem to stumbling to know where they are who they are the situation and what they are thinking.

    Seems the Government leave it to the lawyers and the lawyers leave it (family law) to the Government so to break the impasse how about a younger person with passion and authority to do reform.

    • JamesB says:

      No offense to Mike or Ken intended, have seen it in relatives also, was making trying to illustrate a point with well known names very old stars can come across that way as with all of us I suppose grow old and retire, footballers retire then get old.

    • keith says:

      Yes and someone with honesty and integrity not a yes man to big business.
      i remember the words of Bridgett Robb chief exec of the british association of social workers. “once the child is taken into care the local authority quickly move them on through into Adoption because thats where the money is”

  4. JamesB says:

    Perhaps it is just a ceremonial figurehead position not doing much anyway.

  5. Joan lowe says:

    Shame he didn’t back up what he said he was going to do with the family courts and he also said social workers could be named and shamed but how come they are still giving parents gagging orders and also sending them to jail for speaking out

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