In response to press inquiries about issues raised in an open letter sent to the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and the President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane, and circulated to the media this week, a spokesman for the judiciary said:
“The Lord Chief Justice and President of the Family Division have noted the content of the judgment on appeal given by Ms Justice Russell in the case of JH vs MF. The remitted case will be reheard by a different judge from the trial judge.
“Ms Justice Russell, the chair of the Family Committee of the Judicial College, raised the issue of training in her judgment on the appeal. All judges on appointment to the family courts are given intensive training for cases involving domestic abuse and also on the approach to Practice Direction PD12J mentioned in the judgment.
“PD12J is the practice direction that governs how to deal with such cases. Training is refreshed at continuation courses. Cases of this nature are heard by salaried and part time judges.
“A panel of experts, which includes two serving judges, was established by the Ministry of Justice in 2019 to review how the family courts deal with domestic abuse and other serious offences. The panel is expected to report shortly.
“It is likely to look at the role of all professionals engaged in domestic abuse cases. Its recommendations, including any relating to training, will be of importance. The Lord Chief Justice and President of the Family Division have asked Lady Justice Rafferty, Chairman of the Judicial College, to oversee the preparation of an online resource for the use of family judges dealing, in particular, with issues of consent and stereotypes in sexual cases. The induction and refresher course will be adjusted to ensure these topics are fully covered.
“Ms Justice Russell’s full judgment (PDF, opens in a new tab) and the judgment in the original case (opens in a new tab) are both published on the Judiciary website.”