Judge says more children should have their voices heard and be allowed to give evidence in Family Court

Sir James Munby, Court of Appeal Judge, has said that more children should have their voices heard to explain their feelings in court. The judge outlined his thoughts in a ruling on a Court of Appeal case which involved a 14 year old girl who complained that a judge had not met with her and she was deprived of her right to participate.

Sir James Munby said that judges’ approach to the issue of children giving evidence in Family Court hearings must change ‘sooner rather than later’.

Six years ago, a Supreme Court Justice said there had been a presumption against children giving evidence. Lady Hale, during a Supreme Court ruling said that such a presumption raised significant human rights issues and judges should not presume that a child should not give evidence. Sir James Munby referred to the fact that Lady Hale’s analysis had led to discussions among senior judges and new guidelines being published however he also stated that sometimes judges had been slow to recognise the need for change.

Sir James Munby then went on to say ‘one thing is clear: that proper adherence to the principles laid down (by the Supreme Court) will see ever increasing numbers of children giving evidence in family proceedings.’.