Reporting in the family court – transparency pilot to include courts in London and South West

Reporting in the family court – transparency pilot to include courts in London and South West

A pilot scheme enabling journalists to report on family law cases is being extended to more courts.

The scheme was originally piloted by three courts (Carlisle, Cardiff & Leeds) as part of the Transparency Project but from 29 January 2024 will now cover 19 of the 43 family court centres in England & Wales.

Historically, journalists were able to attend family court hearings but could only report with permission of the court. The pilot eases those reporting restrictions and enables journalists to report on what is said in a case by those involved, provided the parties remain anonymous.

The purpose of the scheme is to try to “demystify” what happens in the family court, as well as to expose the realities of the family court procedure and the powers available to the judges in these cases. It has been met with opposition by some family lawyers and judges who believe the proceedings should remain private.

Initially, the pilot will limit reporting to “public law” cases (decisions about whether children should be taken into care), but the pilot will then later be extended to “private law” cases (those involving separating couples, including finances on divorce and arrangements for children).

The courts that will now also pilot the scheme will include some South-West centres and all London courts including the Central Family Court.

At Michelmores, we recognise that privacy is a key consideration for many of our clients. Our Family Team considers all options for resolving family law disputes including supporting our clients with private, out of court options to resolve family disputes, including Collaborative Law, Mediation, Early Neutral Evaluation, Private FDRs and Arbitration.

If you require advice about how this pilot project might affect you, alternatives to court or privacy in family cases please contact Sarah Green or Pippa Allsop.

With thanks to Megan Davies for her assistance with this article.