For a judge that’s ‘right up to 11’: livid Sir James Munby launches most scathing attack on Grayling yet

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By Alex Aldridge on

Shocking case — which saw vulnerable couple and their child denied legal aid — makes the blood of nation’s top family judge boil


An eye-catching judgment — embedded in full below — from the president of the High Court’s family division has been doing the rounds on Twitter today after it was brought to wider attention by journalists David Banks and David Allen Green.

The case involves a little boy whose mother has borderline learning difficulties and whose father an IQ of around 50. The court has been asked to decide whether the boy should live with his parents and wider family, or, as Swindon Borough Council argues, be adopted outside the family.

Because the father’s disposable monthly income is between £767.64 and £806.94, the parents are ineligible for legal aid. The legal aid-qualifying upper limit for disposable monthly income is £733.00.

This, as David Allen Green has summarised on his influential @JackOfKent Twitter account, has enraged family division chief Sir James Munby.

Green provides a helpful translation of judicial euphemism.

It’s clear who Munby expects will shoulder the burden of the legal aid cuts. In this case, Withy King’s Rebecca Stevens has so far put in 100 hours of unpaid work.

Munby has scheduled a further hearing to decide who should pay the couple’s legal costs. Copies of his judgment, he explained, will be sent to justice secretary Chris Grayling, the Legal Aid Agency, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services “inviting each of them to intervene in the proceedings to make such submissions as they may think appropriate”.

The full judgment is below. Check out, in particular, paragraphs 18, 31, 33 and 37.