Towards transparency in the ‘secret’ family justice system – a brief history and a look at where we are now
The Transparency Project ( @seethrujustice ) was founded in 2014 to explain and discuss family law and family courts in England & Wales, and provide resources to help people understand the system and the law better. We aim to fill the information gap left by inadequate or misleading media coverage of family law.
In 2009, the Family Proceedings Rules were amended to allow accredited journalists to attend hearings held in private in the family courts, subject to reporting restrictions. But despite this privileged access, and despite the increasing availability of family court judgments on the internet, the media has perpetuated the myth of ‘secret courts’ administering justice ‘behind closed doors’. When cases are reported, it is often in a sensationalised and tendentious way that gives a misleading impression.
Thanks to funding from the Legal Education Foundation, TP set up its Family Court Reporting Watch. Where cases have been misrepresented in the mainstream press, we write a blog post explaining what actually happened and why. We also publish a series of Guidance Notes for the general reader, on things like court reporting, parents recording meetings with social workers, ‘section 20’ accommodation, and the use of experts. In 2017, TP was shortlisted as Family Law Commentator of the Year in the LexisNexis Family Law Awards.
The TP trustees are:
- Lucy Reed ( @Familoo ) a family law barrister at St John’s Chambers in Bristol, who also writes the popular Pink Tape blog ( pinktape.co.uk ) ;
- Dr Julie Doughty ( @julie_doughty ) , a law lecturer at Cardiff University;
- Paul Magrath ( @Maggotlaw ), a law reporter and legal publisher with the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR).
Together we have now written a book, “Transparency in the Family Courts: publicity and privacy in practice” (Bloomsbury Professional), with a foreword by the incoming President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane. This explains the restrictions on reporting family law cases, the procedural mechanisms for allowing or restraining publication and how clients and advisers should respond to them, explanatory chapters about publication of anonymised judgments, use of social media, press regulation, and comparison with other courts.
This talk will explain the work of The Transparency Project and the genesis and aims of the book.
Date: 10 September 2018
Time: 18:00 for 18:30 start
Location: Anthony Gold Solicitors, Second Floor, The Counting House, 53 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QN
Light refreshments and nibbles will be provided
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