The Senior President of Tribunals stressed the importance of evidence-based reasoning in a speech earlier this month.
In a talk entitled The Role of the Justice System in Decision-making for Children, Sir Ernest Ryder said
“Since the publication of the Family Justice Review in 2011, the family justice system has been undergoing a systematic programme of reform, the aim of which is to ensure more and better access to justice for children and their families.”
The former barrister and Appeal Court judge added:
“The modernisation of family justice remains work-in-progress. As part of that process, in today’s address, I want to revisit one aspect of that reform programme, the one focused on decision making and judicial decision-making as part of the process in which we are all involved: the young person, parents, carers, professionals and agencies and the judge of the Family Court.”
He highlighted three important principles: reform via “rigorous and informed training”; high quality material for judges to inform their decision making; and the need for “an approach to improving and enhancing judicial decision making” that is “systematic, evidence-based, and tested.”
“We cannot afford to pluck best practice out of thin air. It is neither whatever is the latest fashion of the day, nor is it what any particular judge finds attractive or interesting: even less the sometimes uninformed and historically hidebound views of those who happen to exercise power. It is no use a judge advising other professionals about their skill and expertise without the benefit of access to evidence based materials rather than mere common sense or personal preference.”
Sir Ernest was speaking at the 10th International Congress of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (BASPCAN) earlier this month.
The event was held at the University of Warwick.
Read the full speech here.
Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by Jo.sau via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence