The Honourable Mr Justice Ryder.
This article is based on a lecture given on the 25th anniversary of Butterworth's Family Law Service, June 2008.
If the family courts system can be developed to be responsive to the needs of those involved in family breakdown and to be reflective of a consensus in family justice policy derived in a transparent manner then the last element of the jigsaw which is necessary to put that together is the leadership and management of the process. There is a responsibility in any system where decisions are devolved into an administrative justice forum to manage that forum by reference to clearly identifiable objectives, ie policy. That requires careful management by the judiciary, not the executive, and as we have learnt in our tentative steps in the leadership of the Circuit and High Court judiciary, that needs a model which inculcates responsibility and accountability but preserves independence.
We need a new family court if we are to survive the many pronged attacks on our existing system. The public deserves such a court and before we lose them to financial ruin or retirement now is the time to engage the professions to provide a model for the future. Our existing system of volunteers in the FPCs and a separate professional judiciary does not of itself provide a solution and is not apparently in tune with the society we live in. We need to be brave enough to say so and say that family justice is more important than the structures we have inherited.
For the full article, see September  Family Law journal.
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