It is well established that judges cannot comment on the merits of government policy. To do so would be undemocratic and unconstitutional.

But that should not mean they are hamstrung from warning about the effects of bad policy. The judiciary website itself says that judges can comment 'where the policy in question affects the administration of justice within a judge’s particular area of judicial responsibility'. 

Sir James Munby is hardly unfamiliar with an excoriating judgment. He is a master of the devastating putdown and headline-grabbing soundbite, whether it's bemoaning the 'lamentable history of procrastination' in family justice or describing video-links as a 'disgrace'.

Somehow, yesterday's ruling felt different. The president of the family division of the High Court said there would be 'blood on our hands' if a suicidal teenage girl did not receive adequate supervision. The case, he said, demonstrated the 'disgraceful and utterly shaming lack of proper provision in this country of the clinical, residential and other support services' so desperately needed by children and young people.'

It is worth noting the Judicial Office had given the press advance notice that the judgment was coming out, without giving any clue as to its subject or content. This ruling was designed to gain maximum exposure, and it duly succeeded, leading national news bulletins throughout the day.

It feels to me as if judges have found their collective voice - that they have reached the limits of self-restraint over the degradation of our justice system and how it ought to complement a properly functioning advanced society.

Lord Reed's magisterial Supreme Court ruling last week on employment tribunal fees went beyond the boundaries of the case and talked at length about the merits of access to justice.

In March, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the outgoing lord chief justice, said then-lord chancellor Liz Truss was 'completely and utterly wrong' in her stance over the media reaction to the article 50 judgment. Lord Neuberger, outgoing president of the Supreme Court, was critical of the legal aid system in July. 

Some might suppose these comments could be due to Thomas, Neuberger and Munby - all leaving within a year of other - getting demob happy. 

Some might also argue their interventions have not come a moment too soon.

When Thomas was asked in November 2013 if legal aid reforms were a threat to access to justice, his response was equivocal, saying there was little effect thus far and suggesting you could not foresee the impact. The mood music has changed.

Judges are on the frontline and can see better than anyone if a policy is not working. It is incumbent upon them to speak out and it may just be that they have reached the end of their tether.