Berkeley Lifford Hall Accountancy ServicesHousing Law WeekAlphabiolabs

Court reporting proposals published in Children Bill

Children, Schools and Families Bill published

The Bill setting out further reform to the reporting of family proceedings has now been published, following the commitment made in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday.

The proposals are set out in the Children, Schools and Families Bill which, according to the accompanying press release from the MoJ, aims to

"balance the need to make family courts open and accountable against the critical importance of protecting the welfare of children and families involved in family proceedings."

The underlying thrust of the proposals is that there will be a general restriction on publication of information relating to the proceedings covered by the proposals but subject to three exceptions, which are

The intention is that the rules will allow publication of court orders, judgments and disclosure in much the same way as at present, but also create a new category of “authorised news publication”. Under this category, information obtained by media representative who has attended the proceedings in question can be reported subject to a prohibitions on information that could lead to identification of

"children, parties or witnesses (save professional witnesses) in the proceedings (“identification information”) or of other sorts of particularly sensitive information (“sensitive personal information”, “restricted adoption information” and “restricted parental order information”)"

The publication of all other information is permitted, though the court will retain powers to relax or restrict publication of either categories of information outlined above.

These proposals appear to be the first phase of reforms with a review planned after implementation to allow the Government to consider a further relaxation of restrictions, such as those still in place on identification of witnesses and publication of sensitive personal information.

The proposals are set out in Part 2 of the Bill. Further information can be found using the links below:

- press release from the Ministry of Justice

- index and commentary on the Children, Schools and Families Bill

- text of the Children Schools and Families Bill