The Daily Mail are reporting that “Britain’s TOP Family Judge” has given a speech suggesting that we will be moving away from specialised and dedicated Court buildings to Judges hearing cases and making decisions in “pop-up” Courts, and that this might include pubs.
Quick note – whilst this is an ACE story, I think it is one for the “EU bans bendy bananas” file.
Sir James Munby, president of the High Court’s Family Division, said there was a need to move away from judges holding hearings in a ‘palais de justice, sitting on an enormous throne’.
The 67-year-old judge said that courtrooms in the future must be provided ‘where we need them’, and these makeshift courts could be held in buildings such as pubs or town halls.
According to The Times, Sir James said: ‘We must get away from a judge sitting in a palais de justice, sitting on an enormous throne with one or two people sitting on either side.’
The report by legal editor Frances Gibb told how Sir James suggested that litigants could even participate in power of attorney matters with online video links ‘from their kitchen tables’.
[I can’t see anywhere in their piece a quote from either Sir James or Frances Gibb that mentions the word ‘pub’ – the absence of speech marks around the ‘in buildings such as pubs or town halls’ makes me suspicious]
Note of caution. I know some of you may find this hard to believe, but the Daily Mail has occasionally been known to exaggerate a little. Their source seems to be the Times, which is behind a paywall, so I can’t check that.
The speech by Sir James Munby was given at a Conference for Solicitors for the Elderly. I can’t find the text of this speech available on line, and it might well be that a grain has been expanded into a full-blown haystack.
Quite possibly, since I see that this EXACT same scare story was around in March, and was debunked. Just with a different Judge having been claimed to have said it.
But it was an off-the-cuff comment by Lord Thomas that brought this proposal to wider public attention. During a meeting of the Commons justice committee, Conservative MP Victoria Prentis asked him: ‘Would it be possible to have court in other places, possibly that comes to us once a week or once a fortnight? Hold it in the local civic building, or the hotel, or the pub? Is that something you’re keen on?’
‘Yes,’ replied Lord Thomas. ‘I looked yesterday at reports and pictures of a judge who was experimenting doing family and civil cases and he was sitting behind trestle tables in a public room to which the public had access and his account of it was that it went very well. I think there are two problems: one is to make sure that wherever we sit there’s access to IT, but that shouldn’t be difficult these days, and the second is security…’
You will see here that the question puts pub in a list of possible venues, and the answer doesn’t mention pubs at all. (I personally would have answered with ‘absolutely NOT pubs, but civil buildings quite possibly’ and I bet that’s what is behind this story. If it is not, and we ARE going to be doing care proceedings in the Dog and Duck, then as I am feeling supersonic, please give me gin and tonic)
Thanks to Richard Balchin for the sight gag, which I’ll now use…
Also, whilst “Enormous Thrones” might be all the rage in the Court of Appeal, most Judges get something much less grand. Cheap green leatherette, torn, is more what’s going on.
Not a new idea – There was a consultation last year – see https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/proposal-on-the-provision-of-court-and-tribunal-es/user_uploads/reform-estates-national-consultation_official-sensitive_final_050815.pdf at pages 2 and 4. They don’t mention pubs there, but civic buildings get a few mentions.
One of the questions in that consultation was
Question 5. Are there alternatives to travelling to a physical building that would be a benefit to some users? These could include using technology to engage remotely or the use of other, civic or public buildings for hearings as demand requires.
Following the consultation, the MoJ set out its next steps, including:
“Initial discussions are taking place with stakeholders to identify alternative ways of
delivering services. For example, there are early discussions taking place regionally with
local authorities and other local stakeholders to explore the potential of using public
spaces. These could include civic buildings, universities and community centres. The
response for each court includes an indication of our expectations regarding the provision
of alternative local access to court services.
Work is underway to establish pilots to test hearing cases in non-court buildings. We will
make sure that the security of the judiciary, staff are users is assessed as part of this
process and the provision of appropriate ICT facilities will also be carefully considered and
That was in 2015, and it was not new then, so hardly news now.
All of that makes sense to me, and is not particularly sexy or exciting, which is probably why journalists keep trying to suggest that hearings will take place in pubs. Given what regularly goes on around The Queen Vic or the Rovers Return, I can see that TV scriptwriters would be delighted if the Court hearings could take place in those pubs – it would save them on location fees for one thing.
This is exactly what the president said to the FLBA in November as well – he talked a lot about under used court buildings and how much money could be saved by using other buildings, conveniently forgetting that courts have staff and jobs and customer services and administration and ………
Of more note surely is his saying that thousands of family court cases will soon be held in public.
“I know some of you may find this hard to believe, but the Daily Mail has occasionally been known to exaggerate a little.”
You are being very kind to them as the DM has been known to totally invent things!
I do know they have not invented Munby though, they dont seem to invent people yet (or do they?)
I call them the Daily Mendacity
But then maybe you did not want legal proceedings from them?
Pubs! Why not?
It’s only your local publication deciding on your future anyway (when in front of magistrates or justices)
I think the one I was in front of yesterday was keeping the publican in business…piss up in a brewery comes to mind
Well Maybe if they gave Parents Rights we parents would not need to use the courts so much. This is why courts and solicitors treat Parents like Apes and they have become so corrupt to make as much money out of. It is a disgusting that when parents enter the secret family courts they hand of their children to the government because Parents have no rights over their children.
The system is corrupt and stuck up its own arse for this very reason