No Media in Family Courts

20 JUN 2007

The Ministry of Justice has announced that the media should not be given an automatic right to attend family courts as this could jeopardise children's rights to privacy and anonymity. The emphasis, outlined in another consultation paper Confidence and confidentiality: Openness in family courts - a new approach (CP 10/07) published on 20 June 2007, will be on improving the information coming out of family courts rather than on who can go into them. The intentions are as follows:

  • Providing more information about how the court has reached its decision for the people involved in proceedings and for those who were subject to proceedings as children.
  • Where there is a clear public interest, making either an anonymised transcript or an anonymised decision summary available for public scrutiny, for example where a child is permanently removed from one or both parents.
  • Clarifying the rules on who can attend family courts and what reporting restrictions apply.
  • Developing an online information hub to provide general information on the different tiers of family court, what happens in each, on what basis the judiciary reaches decisions, and what people should expect if they are going to be involved in proceedings.

Further consultation on certain proposals closes on 1 October 2007. A pilot scheme is to be devised to gauge the full impact, implications and benefits to people involved in family proceedings. For more information see July [2007] Fam Law. The paper is available on the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/consult-family-courts.pdf

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