HIGH Court judges are set to routinely examine some family court cases at public hearings following the introduction of a new appeal system.

People unhappy about rulings by local family court judges have traditionally outlined their concerns at public hearings in the Court of Appeal in London.

But lower-ranking High Court judges, who specialise in family litigation, are to routinely analyse some appeals as part of a change introduced by judicial heads.

Mr Justice Baker examined issues at the first of the new-style appeals at a preliminary hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Tuesday.

Normally, hearings in the Family Division of the High Court - and in local family courts - are staged in private. Journalists are allowed to attend, but generally a judge has to decide what information can be published.

But Mr Justice Baker said the basic position was that appeals heard in the Family Division of the High Court under the new regime would be analysed in open court - in line with Court of Appeal policy.

He said judges would make orders barring children at the centre of litigation from being identified.

Mr Justice Baker on Tuesday analysed an appeal from a ruling by a family court judge in Chelmsford.

The case involved parents who were in dispute over a child. The judge gave preliminary directions and said a full appeal hearing would be staged in the near future. He said the child involved could not be identified.

The appeal regime was altered earlier this year.

A Judicial Office spokesman said the aim of the change was to ''relieve pressure on the Court of Appeal''.

The move follows concerns about a rise in the number of people who decide to represent themselves when challenging decisions made by family court judges because of changes to the legal aid system.

Several judges have complained that problems are being generated because legal aid reform means that some people embroiled in family court disputes can no longer get public money to pay for lawyers.

Conservative ministers have defended changes to the legal aid system.