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Pop down the pub for a pint and a Supervision Order

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…


A finely balanced weighing up exercise

A finely balanced weighing up exercise