Ahead of his retirement as President of the Family Division tomorrow, Sir James Munby made a speech to the Family Justice Young People's Board's 6th Annual 'Voice of the Child' Conference giving an update on the progress made on enabling the family justice system to accommodate children who want to come to court and on meeting the needs of vulnerable witnesses and parties.
On the former issue, he says that 'nothing has been achieved. In fact, matters are even worse now than they were a year ago', calling this 'deeply depressing news'. On the latter, he notes that some progress has been made, with the introduction of the Rules in Part 3A and the new Practice Direction 3AA, but says that more needs to be done to provide courts with the necessary facilities and ensure they have the necessary equipment. He also criticises the failure to legislate to prevent the cross-examination of alleged victims by an alleged perpetrator, saying that 'whether a person hearing bankruptcy cases should be called a Registrar or a Judge [an issue covered in the current Courts and Tribunals Bill] is surely of much less pressing concern and infinitely less priority than putting an end to this long-standing abuse in the family courts'.