News Story – Almost half of family courts to allow reporting in England and Wales

By Sanchia Berg and Judith Burns

Click here to read more

A pilot scheme to allow journalists and legal bloggers to report cases from three family courts in England and Wales is to be extended to almost half of the courts in the countries.

From 29 January, coverage of cases at 16 more family court centres in England will be permitted.

This means 19 of the 43 centres in England and Wales will be part of the Transparency Pilot.

Families and individual social workers will be anonymous under the scheme.

However, reporting can include the names of local authorities and some experts, once Transparency Orders are granted.

For the first time in these courts, reporters will be able to speak to families about their cases, quote from documents and describe what they see and hear in court.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the High Court’s Family Division, described the move as a “huge step to increase transparency and improve public confidence and understanding of the family justice system”.

He urged the media to come to the family courts, to see the “vital and challenging work” that is done there.

Journalists and legal bloggers will be able to apply for Transparency Orders in Liverpool, Manchester, West Yorkshire, Hull, the Midlands, Dorset, Truro, Luton, Guildford and Milton Keynes, as well as in all of London’s family courts.

Initially, reporting will be limited to “public law cases”, where judges are deciding whether children should be taken into care.

As happened in the pilot centres of Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle, reporting will be extended later to “private law cases”, where parents are separating. It will also be allowed eventually at magistrates’ hearings of family cases.

During the past year, the BBC has reported extensively from the pilot courts, including a series of in-depth pieces on individual stories on Radio 4’s Today programme.

Verified by MonsterInsights