Father told demand for publication of family court fight is 'wholly unrealistic'


A man who wants judges to reveal detail of his decade-long family court battle with an ex-partner over access to their child is making a "wholly unrealistic demand", according to a specialist group set up to "shed light" on the workings of family courts.

The man, from Norwich, had said he would like Sir James Munby, the president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, to read his case file.

But The Transparency Project, a group made up of family lawyers and academics, suggests he would have been better asking his lawyers for advice rather than airing his grievances in the media. The project's "reporting watch team" also says, in a blog, that Sir James has "no power to interfere".

The man had told last month how his fight began shortly after his daughter, who is approaching her 10th birthday, was born and continues.

He says he has spent more than £500,000 on lawyers and dozens of hearings have been staged in six courts in two different areas of England before numerous judges.

But he says every hearing has been held in private and not one judge's ruling has been published, despite judicial heads launching a drive for family court transparency.

The man said his daughter lived with her mother.

He said he wanted to spend more time with the girl and she wanted to spend more time with him.

The man says judges have not listened to the girl.

He had raised concern in the wake of a report which said people were being left with a ''patchy understanding'' of the family justice system in England and Wales because judges were not consistently following guidance on the publication of case rulings.

Academics at Cardiff University's School of Law and Politics published the report in March.

They gathered data three years after judicial heads issued guidance to family court judges following ''secrecy'' complaints.

But The Transparency Project reporting watch team highlighted a number of difficulties the man would face.

"If he has been litigating for 10 years, some (rulings) will be too old to be subject to the guidance," says the blog.

"Another unknown is how many judgments were delivered by circuit judges, because district judges and magistrates are not subject to the guidance.

"The president has no power to interfere with decisions made by other judges.

"Neither does he have any power to make a judge publish any judgments at all.

"It is unfortunate that this father, having apparently spent so much money on lawyers' fees, hasn't gone back to those legal advisers for advice about publication, in preference to going to the press with a wholly unrealistic demand."