Family Justice Minister Baroness Ashton has announced that there
will be a consultation on the transparency of the family courts – and
how they are reported – next spring.
She said: “There is a
growing consensus that the family courts lack transparency and this
lays the system open to unfounded accusations of bias and injustice.
“Greater openness could help refute some of this criticism and create a better understanding of the way the system works.”
present, families are heavily restricted in sharing information in
contact, care and residence cases with their legal adviser. Discussion
about the details of their case with anyone else, even with another
close family member, their MP, or a journalist, is almost always
prohibited without the consent of the court, even if the children
involved are not identified.
This is seen as making it hard for families to seek support, help and advice.
Mark Potter, president of the High Court’s Family Division, said: “I
welcome the thorough examination of access to, and reporting of, family
proceedings. We must ensure that a solution balances the need of
justice being seen to be done while suitably protecting the interests
of children and other vulnerable parties.”