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President’s Practice Guidance: Family Court – Anonymisation guidance

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has published practice guidance dealing with two aspects of anonymisation and the avoidance of identification of children in judgments placed in the public arena. Those aspects are personal and geographical indicators in judgments, and the treatment of sexually explicit descriptions of the sexual abuse of children.

The President notes that in July 2016, Dr Julia Brophy published a report, jointly funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Association of Lawyers for Children, building on views expressed on transparency in the Family Court by a National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) panel of young people. The report set out draft guidance on the anonymisation of judgments. The draft guidance was designed to minimise the risk of identification of children and made recommendations on how descriptions of sexual abuse could be presented in judgments with a view to protecting children from the dissemination of distressing material on the internet or social media.

The President states that he is issuing the guidance to endorse, express, the two checklists contained in the report which are annexed to the guidance. He wishes to encourage all judges to refer to the checklists when publishing any judgment in a family case relating to children. He says that he believes that judges will find the checklists to be of real help in writing anonymised judgments.

For the guidance, click here. For Dr Julia Brophy's report, click here.