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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

04 NOV 2009

Pilot of family court judgments publication

Online publication of some judgments in family cases, like care proceedings and contact and residence cases, will be piloted for the first time at courts in Leeds and Cardiff.

The pilots are part of the government's drive to expand media access in the family courts to enable the public to see how decisions are reached. The online judgments will be anonymous to protect the identities of the families involved, and the families themselves will receive a copy of the judgment. Copies of judgments may also be retained for children involved in the case to read when they are older.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said: "Family courts are faced with some of the most difficult decisions to be made in the justice system, and the decisions that they make need to be transparent so that the public who use the courts have confidence in them.

"The courts already provide an excellent service and I believe that by allowing the public to access a written copy of a judgement in a family case it will help them understand how a decision was reached. It is important that people understand and feel connected to the justice system and this pilot will assess whether online judgements are a good way of achieving this aim."

The pilot will conducted in the magistrates' courts in Leeds, and the magistrates' court and county court in Cardiff, and will run from the beginning of January at the magistrates' court and county court in Wolverhampton. The pilot is expected to run for twelve months, and evidence from the pilot will be evaluated to inform a decision on whether the arrangements should be implemented nationally.

In April the government allowed the media, for the first time, to attend family hearings and report the general proceedings.

Government plans for legislation to put a new statutory framework in place that will enable reporting of the substance of family proceedings is proving highly controversial with family practitioners and has led to several children's organisations coming together to create an alliance to resist the plans.

To read more about the Interdisciplinary Alliance for Children click here.

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