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Munby and outspoken judges

We expect our judges to be clear, reasonable, and proportionate in their remarks, and not to use the emotionally charged language of newspaper columnists, writes Blair Gibbs

15 September 2017

It is doubtful that Sir James Munby, president of the High Court’s Family Division, was surprised by the widespread media coverage of his recent judgment in the case of child X. In what he called an “outrage”, Munby said the state “will have blood on our hands” in the event that a placement was not found for a suicidal teenager and she subsequently killed herself.

The case exposed some of the serious problems in the family justice system and mental health provision, which are complex policy challenges that have yet to be properly analysed, let alone fixed. But the August surprise that Munby unleashed invites another big question – how vocal should our judges be?

Munby has a reputation for being outspoken and anyone who has met him will attest to his forthright style. His ‘President’s View’ bulletins are read e...

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