Seeing is believing - transparency in the family courts

06 JUL 2006

Christopher A Burns, Partner, Lee and Priestley, Leeds. Public confidence depends on public scrutiny. Justice not only has to be done, it has to be seen to be done. The Government has now launched a consultation paper, Confidence and Confidentiality: Improving Transparency and Privacy in Family Courts (Department for Constitutional Affairs/HM Courts Service, 2006) to urge a change of culture and to end the secrecy of the family courts. It is anticipated that these proposed changes will allow public accountability and generate public confidence, and at the same time guarantee family anonymity and confidentiality. The recent Court of Appeal decision in Clayton v Clayton [2006] EWCA Civ 878, [2006] FLR (forthcoming) provides an insight into current judicial thinking on this topical issue.

The author concludes that the high profile judgment in Clayton is a significant step towards greater transparency in the family justice system and will also start to restore some degree of public confidence. This is essential as, unfortunately, far too many families need to make use the family justice system. See September [2006] Fam Law 784 for the full article.

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