30 January 2023
The News Media Association has worked closely on the launch of a pilot scheme allowing media to report on the family courts which goes live in Cardiff, Leeds and Carlisle today.
The NMA has been strongly supportive of reforms to open up the family courts to public scrutiny, providing oral evidence in 2021 to the major review conducted by President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane and contributing to the ongoing work of the Transparency Implementation group with senior judges and journalists which has made the launch of this pilot a reality.
The aim of the pilot is to introduce a presumption that legal bloggers and accredited media may report on what they see and hear during family court cases, subject to strict rules of anonymity.
Judges in the pilot courts are able to make a “Transparency Order” which sets out the rules of what can and cannot be reported.
NMA legal, policy and regulatory affairs director Sayra Tekin said: “The launch of the pilot today marks an important step forward to ensure greater transparency in family court proceedings, bringing the Family Division back in line with the vital principle of open justice.
“Effective engagement between the media, court staff and the judiciary will be critical to making sure that these reforms are implemented effectively, so that the public receive the information to which they are entitled.”
Reforms designed to increase transparency of the family courts include allowing journalists to report on proceedings in the family courts, working with the media and representative bodies to ensure the new system works effectively, publication of judgments with redactions to protect anonymity, and better data collection across the Family Division and an annual transparency review.