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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

23 MAR 2007

Privacy and Open Justice in the Family Courts - Part 2

Keith Schilling, Senior Partner, Schillings, and Miranda Fisher, Solicitor, Charles Russell LLP. Following on from Part 1 of this article in March [2007] Fam Law the Consultation Paper Confidence and Confidentiality: Improving Transparency and Privacy in Family Courts, Cm 6886 (TSO, 2006) (the Consultation Paper) is returned to. In Part 1 the current rules were considered and the Consultation Paper proposals reviewed. The second part of this article discusses the case for change in more detail. There are important human rights reasons for preserving unrestricted publicity in the courts. However, there are counter arguments in family cases to prioritise privacy. When it comes to the best interests of the child, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms requires a difficult balancing exercise between Art 8 and Art 10. The courts' paramount consideration remains the welfare of the child and generally the child's right to privacy will outweigh the Art 10 rights of anyone else. The Consultation Paper aims to provide comparable levels of accountability between the criminal and family courts. Does this ignore the fundamental differences between the different types of proceedings? Are the assumptions which underlie the Consultation Paper valid? Do the proposals provide adequate protection for privacy interests, especially those of children? Read the full article in April [2007] Fam Law.

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