Head of family courts goes ‘off the rails’ to mark retirement

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End of the line for outspoken family law chief Sir James Munby

Image credit: Twitter (@BarfordMark)

The judge in charge of the family courts has been spotted on a big day out at a miniature railway to mark his retirement.

Family court staff took to Twitter with their snaps of Sir James Munby posing with a train named “The Flying Munby” yesterday afternoon.

Munby, who stands down as President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice later this month, was joined by his successor, Sir Andrew McFarlane, and predecessors Sir Mark Potter and Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.

The judges were on a visit to the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, billed as “one of Kent’s top tourist attractions” offering “World Famous one-third full-size Steam & Diesel locomotives”. Philip Marshall QC said that the president “really loves trains”.

Munby is held in high esteem by family lawyers and is well known for his detailed and often passionate judgments. In a case last year he warned that “we will have blood on our hands” if no help was found for a suicidal teenager. He said:

“My judicial duty, as with every judge in this country, is ‘to do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm.’ There are occasions, and this is one, where doing ‘right’ includes speaking truth to power. The entrance to the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, admonishes those who enter to ‘Defend the Children of the Poor.’ Is less required of the Family Court or of the Family Division of the High Court? I think not.”

In 2014, he slammed Chris Grayling’s legal aid policy as “unprincipled and unconscionable” in an adoption case that saw lawyers having to represent parents with learning difficulties pro bono.

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Lawyers will remember Munby’s zeal for procedure less fondly. He once said that lawyers who exceed the page limits for their bundles should be shamed by a “special delinquents’ court”.

Munby has also been outspoken off the bench. In recent speeches, he has said that the decline of the traditional family is something to “welcome and applaud”, called on the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider whether it needs to prosecute children, criticised politicians for not legislating to stop alleged domestic abusers cross-examining their victims, and warned that rising numbers of care cases have created a crisis in the family courts.

Munby steps down on 27 July, his 70th birthday, and is succeeded by McFarlane.

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Demos, C.

I think it was Munby in a challenging adoption case who said, ‘we all know about human rights and do not need to repeat here (paraphrasing). From then on all lower (family) court judges just go through the formality of the human rights without touching constitutional common law (ie human rights’ case law). The privileged are so out of touch with reality, with likely say ‘without merit’ to desperate parents whose child has been forcefully adopted (without parental consent) for trivial reasons (the threshold). lawyers are more interested in their wealth and status in society, as are judges (as this is ‘normal’, see Bauman Z.). The only analogy that could be used would be if the Nazis won the 2nd world war and took children off the English middle class people then said, appeal if you want to – but good luck with that! This society is mess on the one hand, with the privileged lawyers being segregated from the lower social class, and on the other the corruption that goes in lower (secret) family courts on the other hand. Mindless zombies, who one day will regret how they have stolen generations. Bourgeois and stratification produces out of touch social class systems.



Someone did a politics module on their LLB



Just another public servant who mysteriously winds up a multi millionaire at his retirement…


Demos, C.

No, some of us have completed more than one degree.






Maybe if you had spent your time more wisely you could do better things than post sh*t on Legal Cheek on a Monday afternoon?



Every day more and more are awakening to the people who have been actively working to bring about our cultural and social collapse.


Diane Abbott

The gymnastics necessary in that tweet to turn it into an anti trump thing was quite impressive.



I thought that.

Not that being against Trump is a bad thing. But even children learn quickly that there’s a time and a place.



Brown corduroys.


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