Family court judges can’t produce judgments immediately after each hearing as they move from case to case with no time in between each sitting to write up their rulings, a court of appeal judge said.
The revelation raises serious questions about the accuracy of judgments in the family courts, where judges find themselves writing up rulings long after hearings have concluded.
The possibility that judges may also be mixing up facts from the several cases they oversee before writing their judgments raises further concerns.
There is currently no information available on the time periods that elapse between the end of a hearing and when a family judge writes up a ruling for that hearing.
Lady Justice King sitting in the Court of Appeal told the parties at the hearing that family courts were overwhelmed with care applications from social services chiefs and that the volume of applications was placing huge pressure on judges.
King was overseeing a child protection case involving a baby who had suffered unexplained skull fractures when she said, “Judgments in care cases are often given by a judge under immense time pressure… Judges at all levels often move seamlessly from one trial to the next without judgment writing time between them.”
Very little information about the case has been made public (we could not find it on BAILII, but if you are able to source it, please do let us know).
This is an incredibly important area and one which needs to be explored properly.