Date: Tue 28 Aug 2018

"The Children Act" By Ian McEwan

A review by June Venters QC

Having practised in the field of criminal and family law all of my career I have often watched films and TV dramas which I have found frustrating because of their failure to portray accurately the roles played by the key players within the family and criminal justice system. This doesn’t mean to say that I haven’t found previous films and TV dramas entertaining, Judge John Deed being just such one!

The Children Act film, for me, stands alone. The portrayal of the High Court Judge by Emma Thompson was "spot on." She managed to portray the obvious skills and intelligence of a High Court Judge commanding the highest of respect whilst coping with her own domesticity falling apart.

As a Family High Court Judge her workload was considerable and meant that she often worked a 6/7 day week and was clearly instrumental in her domestic crisis with her husband having by necessity, neglected both him and her marriage.

More often than not, she had to decide cases involving children. Whilst to members of the public her decisions may have seemed obvious, [such as deciding a blood transfusion was necessary for a child who faced certain death without it]the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism. In arriving at her decision[s] she demonstrated the expertise required in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her Judgments.

If I had to summarise this film I would say that it fairly and accurately captures the significance and importance of the decisions High Court Judges have to make on a daily basis. It also shows that such Judges are not immune to human frailties and above all, for me, it reinforced the role the rule of law plays in all of our lives.

A film I thoroughly recommend.

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