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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Family judges urged to speak out loud and clear


I was heartened this week to see a leading law figure call for the judiciary to speak out when they see something wrong with the legal system.

Lord Justice Wall suggested “the time has come” to end the reluctance to speak out, but instead to do so “loud and clear”. He did though fire a warning about straying too far into politics.

I fail to see what is wrongly political about senior specialists in law giving the benefit of their knowledge on how things are working – or not as the case may be. Who is better placed to comment then them? Certainly not the assorted politicians and junior ministers who shuffle through the Government posts relating to our industry.

Lord Justice Wall – a Court of Appeal judge – was speaking at the Association of Children conference. It has long been established in law that the needs of a child are the “first and paramount consideration”. Surely that outweighs any old fashioned ideas that the Judiciary does not comment? It should.

I believe more leading judges should “come off the bench” and speak up to help get something done about the flaws in the family law system which are seeing fewer practitioners take on more cases in an underfunded but highly complex area of law.

And, in the lower echelons, we should also be making a noise about the injustice and inherent flaws in the system we are bound to. How else will we get anything done about it?

Andrew Woolley
Family law specialist


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Rather than judges speaking out publicly about the creaking family law machinery they should say little or nothing and stick to clearly defined judicial roles. 
Judicial activism is alive and well in the superior courts, with some jurists eschewing the cloak of anonymity, briefing sympathetic journalists, speaking out and disproportionately influencing various debates including funding for CAFCASS, and the debate on financial obligations arising from cohabitation.
No offence to the judiciary but I don’t want to hear judges speaking unless they are in a judicial or inquiry role as this offends the trias politica doctrine, and they really should know better.
John Junk
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By John Junk on Wednesday December 16, 2009

“we should also be making a noise about the injustice and inherent flaws in the system we are bound to.” Absolutely. We are making a noise and because of it-and the obvious damage which is increasingly apparent in all areas of family law-the judiciary are being forced to be open about the serious inadequacies of many aspects of family law. Up until recently they’ve largely refused to accept their system is broke.

But the good news is that the need for change-drastic change-is being recognised. A consultation presented to the government last month states ‘Litigation should be the last, not the first, resort for the resolution of parental disagreements’ and calls for national ‘conflict clinics.’ Read Natasha Phillips article “Petition, petition, petition” here for further information: and join the fast growing band of people who are calling for massive change to family law.

By Kirsten Gronning on Thursday December 17, 2009

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