Until now, journalists have not been allowed to report on what happens in family courts. As of 30 January 2023, a pilot scheme has been launched whereby accredited media and legal bloggers are entitled to observe and report on family court hearings to help increase transparency.
Reporters will not, however, have carte blanche privilege – anonymity will be maintained where safeguarding is at risk, for example: adoption cases, family proceedings concerning children and domestic abuse matters.
Trialling in Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle, the scheme will allow journalists to interview families, view legal documents (not medical reports, unless given permission by the court) and name the lawyers involved in the case.
In the past, family courts have been seen as secretive, with proceedings happening behind closed doors. From this pilot scheme, there is now a shift towards more relaxed restrictions in the family courts in a bid for open justice.
The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane said: “The aim of the pilot is to understand the impact of open reporting and to enhance public confidence, whilst at the same time firmly protecting continued confidentiality.”
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Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary. It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.