Father urges judges to publish rulings on his decade-long family court battle

Updated: 
Custody

A man has called on judges to reveal details of his decade-long family court battle with an ex-partner over access to their child.

The man, from Norwich, says the 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.

He has 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.

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.

He says judges have not listened to the girl.

He 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.

"I'd like Sir James to see if he thinks the process has been fair and transparent," said the man.

"I don't think justice has been done to me.

"More importantly I don't think justice has been done to my daughter.

"I would like rulings to be published, anonymously, from my case."

The man said hundreds if not thousands of fathers were involved in similar cases.

"People should be given some idea of what happens so that lessons are learned," he said.

"In my case, there have been hearings in the North East and in East Anglia.

"I've probably been represented by 10 barristers, including two QCs.

"There have been complaints about judges and applications for them not to oversee hearings.

"Nothing have ever been published."

Cardiff University researchers analysed more than 800 rulings published in the two years after transparency guidance was issued.

Their report says ''only 27 judges and 12 courts'' sent more than 10 cases to the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (Bailii) website for publication during that period

Family court judges told researchers that they did not have enough time to produce rulings that could be made available to the public in anonymised form.

A researchers' spokeswoman said: ''(The research) suggests that guidance given to judges to routinely publish their judgments is not being consistently followed, leaving the public with a patchy understanding of the family justice system.''