When can judges change their minds?

When can judges change their minds?

Family analysis: When, and in what circumstances, is it proper for a judge to vary their decision? Katie Lowe, senior associate at Slater and Gordon LLP,  examines the approach taken by the Court of Appeal in Re K-L (Children) (Fact-finding hearing: subsequent judgment reversing earlier findings).

Original news

Re K-L (Children) (Fact-finding hearing: subsequent judgment reversing earlier findings) [2015] EWCA Civ 992, [2015] All ER (D) 264 (Oct)

A judge in the course of care proceedings had given three judgments. In the third decision, the judge reversed her earlier finding that the father had sexually abused one of his children. The mother appealed. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal on the basis that the judge had not given a satisfactory explanation for her changed decision, ie she had not said that she had reflected further on the evidence, and come to the conclusion that her initial decision had been wrong, and the explanation she had given did not stand up to examination. The judge had cut and pasted a large part of the guardian's skeleton argument into her judgment and that was not a proper way to prepare a judgment--a judge should examine the parties' competing submissions and explain why they preferred one argument to another. Further, the second judgment given by the judge had contained a number of factual errors which the judge had stated, in her third judgment, that she had corrected when she had not. The history of the case was such that no one could have any confidence in the judge's findings contained in the third judgment.

How have the courts approached a judge deciding to alter their decision?

The Barrell jurisdiction is that, after a judgment has been delivered, either orally or by handing down, the judge may, in an appropriate case, alter the judgment at any time before an order giving effect to the judgment has been perfected, named after the decision in In Re Barrell Enterprises [1972] 3 All ER 631. However,

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