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Family Division’s Transparency Review: Update

The final publication of the Family Division's Transparency Review is now expected to be in Summer 2021.

In May 2019, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, announced he would undertake a review of the current arrangements for media/public access and reporting in the Family Courts (known as the Transparency Review).

Courts have continued to operate despite the challenges of the pandemic, but there have been unavoidable delays to the timetable Sir Andrew had envisaged when he launched the Review.

A panel helping the President has recently been extended to include a senior family division judge. The panel's aim is to gather full and candid information for the Review. The panel members are:

The President is grateful to all those who contributed to the Transparency Review call for evidence. In all, more than 100 submissions were received from individuals and agencies drawn from across the world of family justice. The President and panel have now been able to meet remotely to review all submissions and consider from whom to hear oral evidence.

Three oral evidence sessions are being held. The first was held on 2 February 2021. It included four participants, and was conducted remotely and according to witness preference (including reasonable adjustments). The panel heard from:

The next oral sessions will take place on Monday, 8 March and Monday, 17 May. Invitations for them will be sent out shortly. These sessions will involve a range of respondents, and the logistics including formal invitations and methodology for each participant group are being finalised. In each case, provisions will be made to make the content of the sessions available either at the time or later if there are sensitivities or preferences defined by the respondent.