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Family Law

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01 FEB 2011

What Judges Do: Decision Making in the Lower Courts

Mavis Maclean and John Eekelaar

Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy

The work of the family courts is coming under scrutiny. Following the focus on transparency, there is now increasing interest in the day-to-day activities of those working in the system. The President of the Family Division offered strong support in his speech paper to Families Need Fathers in September 2010 (see November [2010] Fam Law 1232) saying, ‘the best thing about the family justice system is the people who work in it . . . decent, honest and hardworking . . . They are not in it for the money, but do the work because they believe in it'. But the Family Justice Review is expected to make radical proposals. The legal aid consultation has already done so. Change is in the air, together with the anxiety associated with it.

As evidence to support these comments, we set out below three examples giving a ‘snapshot' view of the working day of a district judge (DJ) in a county court, a legal adviser to a family proceedings court (FPC) and a county court circuit judge, typical of a variety of examples that could have been chosen. We set out the timetable of the day, and discuss the contribution made by the judge.

To read the rest of this article, see February [2011] Family Law journal.

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