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Judiciary backs joint publication on media access and reporting in family courts PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 09:31

Judges and journalists have issued a joint publication on media access and reporting in the family courts.

The document – The Family Courts: Media Access and Reporting – was jointly published by the President of the Family Division, the Judicial College and the Society of Editors.

A statement on the Judiciary of England and Wales’ website said: “There is no more difficult issue in family justice than the reporting of cases. There is a tension between concerns about ‘secret justice’ and legitimate expectations of privacy and confidentiality for the family. Both standpoints are valid, and the question is whether they are irreconcileable.”

The document – written by barristers Adam Wolanski and Kate Wilson – sets out the current state of the law in this area, analysing “where we are at the moment: what we can and what we cannot do”.

It covers issues such as:

  • Principles
  • Sources of law
  • Access to court hearings
  • Media access to court documents
  • Reporting the courts, including judgments
  • Orders contra mundum
  • Appeals
  • Disclosure from family proceedings

The publication also considers various types of cases: children public law cases; children private law cases; adoption cases; parental order applications; matrimonial and civil partnership causes; applications for ancillary relief and related matters; applications under part IV of the Family Law Act 1996; vulnerable and incapacitated adults (inherent jurisdiction); and incapacitated adults (the Court of Protection).

The Judiciary website said: “It is, in our view, a substantial and very important piece of work. Its publication is all the more timely as the debate on increased transparency and public confidence in the family courts moves forward.

“It will serve to inform future consideration of this difficult and sensitive area, including the questions of access to and reporting of proceedings by the media, whilst maintaining the privacy of the families involved.”

A copy of the publication can be downloaded here.


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