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.
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