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President releases draft guidance on reporting in the Family Courts

Transparency Review to be established

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has released draft guidance, for consultation, on reporting in the Family Courts. It follows an appeal in Re R (A Child) (Reporting Restrictions) [2019] EWCA 482 Civ heard on 15 February 2019.

The President, who is also Head of Family Justice, said he welcomes people's views and suggestions to the consultation.

In his View from the President's Chambers, published simultaneously with the draft guidance, Sir Andrew announced that he intended to set up a 'Transparency Review', "during which all available evidence and the full range of views on this important topic can be considered (including evidence of how this issue is addressed in other countries). The aim of the review will be to consider whether the current degree of openness should be extended, rather than reduced. He added that he intended to invite two or three respected individuals, not known as having a firm view on the issue, to assist him as fellow assessors in this process. The review is expected to be conducted over the next nine months with a view to producing a report and recommendations by this time next year.

Commenting on the President's plans in respect of transparency in the Family Court, Hetty Gleave, Partner in the Family Departmen of Hunters Law LLP, said:

"Steering a course which, on the one hand, protects privacy and confidentiality in sensitive family matters, and on the other enables public scrutiny of decisions, which often affect fundamental human rights, will always be a challenge. However, in an age where news is instant and formal court reporting is being replaced by blogging, change is inevitable. It must be welcomed that the family justice system has responded to requests for a more open and accessible system of reporting so that public confidence in the system, which is hugely important, is maintained." 

For the draft guidance, click here. For the judgment in Re R, click here. For the latest View from the President's Chambers, click here.

10/5/19