‘Judges should not have to justify themselves’

Family Law|March 10th 2017

Judges should not have to justify their rulings, Family Division President Sir James Munby has insisted.

Speaking at the inaugural Bridget Lindley Annual Memorial Lecture staged by advisory body the Family Justice Council, Sir James insisted that the Court of Appeal was the only venue in which judgements were properly subject to scrutiny.

He told attendees:

“Judges explain their reasoning in their judgments. They are fair game for comment and criticism, however vehemently and harshly expressed. But to challenge a judgment you go to the Court of Appeal.”

The President had been asked about judicial involvement in serious case reviews, which are currently held to reconsider cases when a vulnerable child is injured or killed due to neglect or abuse.

Sir James continued:

“The principle that you do not justify your judgments is of importance. If you let that principle go… where does it stop? One will have an MP saying “justify this”, or a journalist saying “justify this”. There will be no end to it. There’s an absolute line. If one crosses that absolute line the potential implications are very serious. You will end up with ‘why is the judge not prepared to come on Newsnight or Panorama to explain what happened?’.”

The direct involvement of judges in serious case reviews would not be appropriate he concluded.

Photo by quinn.anya via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence 

Author: Stowe Family Law


  1. keith says:

    No no no, Munby is totally wrong here. Judges should be held accountable for their judgements if there is a lot of criticism and controversy surrounding the case and when bias seems evident. justice is supposed to be done in all courts not just the court of appeal as he very stupidly seems to be suggesting. if this is the case then lets scrap all other useless courts and just go to the high court for every case if thats the only place we can get justice.
    if the human Race is to progress into a better and fairer justice system then new modes of thinking need to come in. Mr Munby seems old fashioned and out of touch. he wont do much to improve things here.
    Einstein was right. dont just accept what you are told as fact, question and challenge everything.

  2. Joseph ALLA says:

    Judges explain their reasoning in their judgments. They (many in that respect for sure) rumble into syllogism to bamboozle in order to justify their reasoning for sure) . You just have to read a case to see that in a family court where they are not scrutinised, many of their reasoning are tainted of biased. They already know who side to be on before proceedings, especially when they are faced up with a LIP. They know the LIP voice counts for nothing. In many a case they would even disregard the evidence put before them. I should know because I have been a litigant in person, not just a any LIP, a black man LIP. You don’t need to have done anything to have a ruling against you even when no shred of evidence is produced by your ex-wife claiming that she was abused. A black man is always fair game in court room where a white judge is not scrutinised in his ruling.
    They are fair game for comment and criticism, however vehemently and harshly expressed. But to challenge a judgment you go to the Court of Appeal.”
    Court of Appeal is not necessarily overruled a judgement made by a lousy judge unless they have an interest to do so; this a fraternity, they would look out for themselves.
    Explaining a reasoning alone is not enough, they have got to justify their ruling sometimes, especially when the case defies logics; one cannot be on six figures salary and merely come up with some superficial explaining on a judgement that stink.
    Obviously they( the Judges see themselves as such) are above the law; they could come away with some BS explaining their reasoning but they judgement could still be wrong. After all a judgement is just a matter of opinion. Many Judges jump on allegations thrown at them like a dog would jump on a bone to make their ruling. It is always easy for any judge to explain why he may be happy with what is being presented; not having to justify themselves make the job much easier for them.

  3. Andrew says:

    You can have an accountable judiciary. Or an independent judiciary. Not both at the same time and in the same place.

  4. CB says:

    The day of reckoning comes to us all one day, whether we deny, or not, it certainly does happen

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