Changing the culture

|Speeches|Sir Nicholas Wall

Speech by the President of the Family Division

“This speech represents the personal views of the judge and does not necessarily represent those of the judiciary as a whole.”

“Historically, the English (or Welsh) judge has been the umpire or arbiter. He or she (usually he) has stood aloof from the process. The advocates prepared and presented their cases, and judges only intervened in that process if invited to do so, to resolve a point which the advocates disputed. The judge then decided the issue and went away. Enforcement of any order was the function of others. The process as described was seen as part of the guarantee of judicial independence. The judge did not descend into the ring, but remained above it.

“In Family Law, as well as in other jurisdictions, this model is no longer practicable or acceptable. For present purposes, I propose only to go back to the Children Act 1989, in relation to which I share the common view that it represents “the most comprehensive and far reaching reform of child law” and that it remains “the overarching legal framework for family law as it applies to children” .”

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