Family courts should be opened up, says top judge


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The Independent Online

The judge in charge of family courts said today there was a “pressing need” for more transparency in the system by letting in the “glare of publicity”.

Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, said that the public had a right to know “what is being done in their name”.

He added that people also have a compelling interest in knowing how family courts “exercise their care jurisdiction”.

The judge’s comments came in a written ruling on a case relating to the welfare of a baby. “When a family judge makes a placement order or an adoption order in relation to a 20-year-old mother’s baby, the mother will have to live with the consequences of that decision for what may be upwards of 60 or even 70 years, and the baby for what may be upwards of 80 or even 90 years,” he said.

“We must be vigilant to guard against the risks.”

Lord Justice Munby said judges strove to avoid miscarriages of justice but “human justice” was “inevitably fallible”.