Disruptive Judgments

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Disruptive judgments are exercises of judicial power intended to impact on practice. This paper discusses the concept of the disruptive case, the practice of making disruptive judgments and the processes though which judgments are made disruptive. It uses the Court of Appeal’s decision in Re B-S as a case study showing how it has disrupted care proceedings and adoption practice. These disruptive effects of Re B-S are illustrated through an examination of case law, reviews, articles, published statistics and research findings. It It also considers how difficult it has been to restore clarity subsequently. It concludes by discussing how to prevent judgments from being disruptive: improving knowledge of the operation and effects of the family justice system through data; the need for interdisciplinary collaboration in developing guidance for practice beyond the court room; and the importance for the rule of law of judicial restraint in promulgating guidance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-422
Number of pages22
JournalChild and Family Law Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2017


  • Care proceedings
  • adoption
  • guidance
  • judges
  • rule of law

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