Dr Julie Doughty of the School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University, has been awarded a grant by the Nuffield Foundation to evaluate the responses to, and effects of, judicial guidance on publishing family court judgments involving children and young people.
In January 2014, the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, issued guidance to judges across England and Wales to make more of their judgments freely available online. The guidance stated that there should be greater transparency in order to achieve a more consistent approach, improve the management of cases and raise a greater public awareness of how the family courts work.
However, Dr Doughty and colleagues have found limitations and inconsistencies in the way this system has operated over the past 2 years.
According to the Transparency Project, there has been no publicly available monitoring or evaluation of the reporting of judgments on Bailii. It is not known how effective or safe it is, and whether it is having any impact on the way cases are reported in the mainstream media or on professional practice.
This research will analyse patterns in the published judgments, media coverage of the family courts and the views of key stakeholders on public legal education and safe reporting.
It is anticipated that a report on the outcomes of the research will be available in late autumn 2016.