Later this month, the Family Court in England and Wales is set for the first time to allow journalists and legal bloggers to report on cases.
Following a successful pilot scheme run across three family courts in England and Wales in 2023, access is to be rolled out across almost half of the courts in the countries.
From 29 January, 16 more family court centres in England will permit live coverage, meaning 19 of the 43 centres in England and Wales will be included.
As part of the scheme, reporting can include the names of local authorities and some experts, once Transparency Orders are granted. However families and individual social workers will be anonymous.
Reporters will now be able to speak to families about their cases, quote from documents and describe what they see and hear in court for the first time in these courts.
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
In the early phases, reporting will be limited to public law cases in which the case regards children being put into care.
Like previously seen in Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle, reporting will later be extended to private law cases concerning parental separation, then eventually further, to include magistrates’ hearings of family cases.
We spoke to Family Solicitor Zoe Allen & asked for her thoughts on the coming changes.
“This is something that clients have been asking for for some time. Whilst it is vital that anonymity of the identities of the children and their families is maintained I would very much like to see this expanded into private law children cases as well Having a journalist present in court and the decisions open to a level of scrutiny does make clients feel more reassured which can only be a good thing. I would also hope that some judges will be less inclined to make dated assumptions and comments in court.”