Long before my occupation of the middle chair I came to the conclusion that legal advisors and lawyers were often unaware that the language they were speaking was almost unintelligible to the court users to whom it was addressed. When I was authorised to occupy the middle chair I was in a position to remedy these failings. Lawyers mildly chastised along those lines invariably accepted with good grace and usually a smile that my interruption was merely to speed up the process for all. Pointers in the other direction whether of substance or style were usually of more substance. Criticism of a High Court during proceedings is a rare event. However outside the courtroom it obviously has no legal effect but the ramifications can be explosive. Mrs Justice Hogg and the Ellie Butler case was an example.
Another High Court judge of the family division, Mr Justice Holman, made remarks in a recent case that seem to have been largely overlooked. A Saudi father has kept his British daughter in a cage for four years at his home in Jeddah. Whatever the rights and wrongs involved, (a report is available here,) the judge did nothing to enhance the reputation of British jurisprudence when he said, "We have to be careful about asserting the supremacy of our cultural standards."
It is just this levelling down of the basis of our legal and cultural heritage which I find nothing less than nauseating. Taken to its logical conclusion we must assume that in the judge`s mind there is no moral, legal, cultural, historical or religious basis for the way in which we conduct or attempt to conduct our society in what we consider the most satisfactory manner for the benefit of all of us. Mr Justice Holman might be a High Court judge but if these comments are a reflection of his thinking processes the Appointments Committee missed a trick granting him the honour and privilege of occupying that most prestigious of chairs. He has lost his moral compass.