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Judges ‘need more scrutiny’ says Sir James

Judges would benefit from greater public scrutiny, the President of the Family Division has suggested.

Speaking at an event on social media and the family courts earlier this week, Sir James Munby claimed modern judges are prone to making mistakes because they are “grotesquely overworked” and “tired”. One solution to this problem, he suggested, would be greater transparency in the family courts – a recurring topic with Britain’s most senior family law judge.

According to a report in The Telegraph, Sir James insisted that judges should not be “immune from criticism” and that journalists should be able to say “the whole thing [ruling] is flawed, the premises are all wrong, the facts are all wrong“.

But, he explained:

“The simple fact is that at present journalists can’t do that without access to the evidence and without reporting what went on in court and saying well, this judge seems to be listening to a different witness than I, and the impression I got from listening to this witness was X,Y,Z and the judge says A,B,C. So I think there are very real problems there.”

The veteran judge added:

“We’ve got to be much more honest about this, and if we are honest about it, things go wrong.”

Many parents “in these care cases” leave family court without understanding what happened during the hearing, the President suggested.

“And that is an indictment of our system, not of them.”

Photo by John Halbrook  via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Kay Wood says:

    You see this man Sir James Munby? I have so much respect for him that if I have the chance, I would just kiss him. Sir Munby is a distinguished gentleman and a true patriot for the Rule of Law. Although so many things are already going terribly wrong in all sorts of ways, it is destined to get worse if the Family Courts continue in this fashion of official immunity and a lack of accountability. Therefore, for Family Courts to demonstrate competence and fitness for purpose, then yes, there must be greater transparency and public scrutiny as the way forward.

  2. Greg Mathews says:

    In my opinion, and from my experience, judges are myopic, limited in intelligence, mollycoddled and spoiled, divorced from any position where they can competently judge people fairly from a personal point of view. In addition to this, they have to follow guidelines, and those are heavily weighted, as far as I can gauge, in the interests of the government as opposed to any justice to the individual. It is all of course cloaked in the pomp and circumstance of the courts, where the big guy with the wig looks down on us as mere mortals, but quite frankly it is all shit. We have no proper justice system in this country, it is purely legislative and weighs in favour of the government and their interests to the deficit of the welfare of its population. I see this clearly from my own experience.

  3. Mr T says:

    Everyone passing the buck rather than taking responsibility for all these alienated \ abused children.

    Judges are overworked. Cafcass weren’t aware and are now also overworked. Police its civil law.

  4. sg says:

    My grandsons Family Court Case stands to date in the High Court of Appeal London 3370/97
    [details removed]
    Printed on Bailli Site (without this document)
    The name used throughout this case was not my grandsons birth certified name
    As a family we appealed to change the WRONG name back to his birth certified name which was refused, False name stays, Split Case joined NO FURTHER APPEAL ALLOWED
    This name was changed back by [name removed] for illegal adoption, case, as a family we were absolutely powerless to do any thing to stop this from happening
    [*comment moderated]

  5. sh says:

    Further to the above comment
    Fast forward, my grandson has made contact requesting to meet his birth family
    I his grandmother have QC [name removed] full Case File, evidence of his breech, starved of Oxygen birth and his head measurement chart (head not growing)
    For 3 months I have gone through scenarios of how to deal with the situation of explaining to my grandson questions he is obviously going to want answers to, how does a grandmother answer without letting him know how insignificant his life with his natural family was throughout this fabricated ordeal, the cover-up of his birth injury, as usual birth family falsly accused left with the mess
    [*Comment moderated]

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