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Media Reporting in the Family Courts

A pilot scheme has begun in a few selected family courts, which will enable journalists to report much more freely about what goes on inside the family court room, including quoting family members who are involved.

There are however strict requirements, including anonymising the names of the parties involved. At the moment only very, general information can be reported, and this has been the case since the 1960’s.

Journalists holding a press card and authorised legal bloggers can attend most family court hearings now, but very little can be reported in the press. Family members involved in the cases also, are not allowed from telling journalists what happened in the case, they run the risk of being in contempt of court. The new pilot scheme in Cardiff, Carlisle and Leeds, have three main changes. Family members will be allowed to speak to accredited reporters and bloggers, and they will be able to be quoted in any subsequent reports.

Secondly the journalists will be allowed to see certain documents, not previously always available, and be able to quote from them. Lastly the journalists will be able to report what they actually witness happening in court which used to be a serious contempt of court matter.

Everyone involved in the case will remain anonymous, these are not criminal proceedings, it is people’s lives but the availability of this information should assist in removing the view that proceedings were ‘secret’ and hopefully any misunderstandings about what the purpose of these proceedings are. Trust in the system is hoped to improve with the greater level of transparency.

Should you require any advice regarding this, or any other related issue please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our experienced family team on 0333 305 7777 or info@progressionsolicitors.com.

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Judith O’Brien - Divorce & Family Solicitor

Written by:

Judith O’Brien

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