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New President of Family Division appointed

The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane has been appointed as the President of the Family Division.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, who was called to the Bar in 1977 and took Silk (Queen’s Counsel) in 1998, had his appointment as the President of the Family Division approved by the Queen. He will take up the role on 28 July following Sir James Munby’s retirement on 27 July.

The President is the Head of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice and may sit as of right in the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the Family Court either alone or as part of a panel. He is also Head of Family Justice, Head of Probate, President of the Court of Protection and chairs both the Family Procedure Rule Committee and Family Justice Council.

The appointment of the President of the Family Division was made by Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor following the recommendation of an independent selection panel chaired by Lord Burnett of Maldon, the Lord Chief Justice.

The other panel members were:

  • the President of the Supreme Court
  • Baroness Hale
  • three lay Judicial Appointments Commissioners namely, Professor Lord Kakkar (Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission), Dame Valarie Strachan and Mr Andrew Kennon

Sir McFarlane was appointed a Recorder in 1995, a Deputy High Court Judge in 2000 and a High Court Judge in the Family Division in 2005. He co-wrote Children Law and Practice which coincided with the enactment of the Children Act 1989 in 1991, and he has been noted for his speeches and lectures around the country on all aspects of child law.

He has held or holds leadership posts including Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association, Chairman of the Clergy Discipline Commission and President of the Clergy Disciplines Tribunals. He was Family Division Liaison Judge for the Midland circuit until his appointment as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2011 where he is the Supervising Lord Justice for Family Cases.

The president of the Family Division deals with;

  • Divorce, including disputes over children, property or money;
  • Adoption, wardship and other matters involving children; and
  • Judgments on behalf of those who are unable to make decisions for themselves, such as persistent vegetative state victims.

Sir James Munby retires in July having been in the role since 2013. He has recently called for new, innovative and better ways to handle the increasing number of care applications after warning that the reasons for the increase are little understood.

Care applications have been rising drastically in recent years but plateaued this last financial year.


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