James Munby

Sir James Lawrence Munby (born 27 July 1948) is a retired English judge who was President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales. He was replaced by Sir Andrew McFarlane on reaching the mandatory retirement age.

Sir James Munby
President of the Family Division
In office
11 January 2013  27 July 2018
Preceded bySir Nicholas Wall
Succeeded bySir Andrew McFarlane
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
12 October 2009  11 January 2013
Nominated byGordon Brown
as Prime Minister
Appointed byElizabeth II
Personal details
Born (1948-07-27) 27 July 1948
EducationMagdalen College School
Alma materWadham College, Oxford

Early life

Munby was born on 27 July 1948. He was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford and Wadham College, Oxford, where he is an Honorary Fellow.[1] He was also an Eldon Scholarship winner.[2]

Munby was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1971 and practised as a barrister at New Square Chambers.[3] He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1988 and as a High Court Judge on 2 October 2000, assigned to the Family Division and authorised to sit in the Administrative Court.

Munby was appointed as Chairman of the Law Commission on 1 August 2009, replacing Lord Justice Etherton.[4] On 12 October of that year, he was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal, receiving the customary appointment to the Privy Council. His term as Chairman of the Law Commission expired in August 2012. On 11 January 2013, he succeeded Sir Nicholas Wall as President of the Family Division.[5]

Munby was the presiding judge when Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer divorced his second wife, Carolyn Freud. The Earl's barrister Nicholas Mostyn advised his client that the case could be heard in private, which Munby rejected. The Earl was upset at the final settlement and unsuccessfully sued Mostyn.[6][7]

Munby instituted procedural changes which led to hearings in family courts being open to the public, save where a judge decides otherwise.


  1. Hough, Andrew (1 March 2011). "Foster parent ban: Lord Justice Munby 'avid supporter of open justice'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  2. "Eldon Scholarship Award Holders since 1919". Oxford University. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  3. "Members". New Square Chambers. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  4. "New chairman of Law Commission appointed by Lord Chancellor". The Department of Justice. 3 August 2009. Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  5. Number10.gov.uk (20 December 2012). "Appointment of President of the Family Division" (Press release). Judiciary of England and Wales. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  6. Maev Kennedy (25 July 2010). "And these little piggies ... were named after a high court judge". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  7. Fay Schlesinger (25 July 2010). "The bizarre case of Earl Spencer, his divorce lawyer...and seven little piggies". Daily Mail. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
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