COMMON LAW DEMANDS REASONS FOR A JUDGE’S DECSION

“The duty is a function of due process, and therefore of justice. Its rationale has two principal aspects. The first is that fairness surely requires that the parties especially the losing party should be left in no doubt why they have won or lost. This is especially so since without reasons the losing party will not know whether the court has misdirected itself, and thus whether he may have an available appeal on the substance of the case. The second is that a requirement to give reasons concentrates the mind; if it is fulfilled, the resulting decision is much more likely to be soundly based on the evidence than if it is not.”

dbfamilylaw

Reasons required in a judicial decision

I had always thought it axiomatic that, in giving judgment, a judge must include reasons for his/her decision. When a district judge in the Family Court in Exeter recently turned down an application for costs in a financial relief case in two lines of text in the pre-amble to her one line order, and insisted on a formal application if more reasons were to be given, I was forced to justify my assumptions.

In general an order for costs in matrimonial finance cases cannot be made (FPR 2010 r 28.3(5)), save where ‘conduct’ is alleged (r 28.3(6)). What is to be taken into account as conduct is defined by r 28.3(7). The district judge merely said r 28.3(5) was ‘relevant’ – well obviously that was the case since it was a finance case – and that there was no conduct ‘having regard to FPR…

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