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Family Courts: Disclosure of Information

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 7149, tabled on 25 May 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to improve transparency in the Family Court process.

Answered on

7 June 2021

Ensuring that decisions made in family proceedings are open and transparent to the public is something to which this Government has given careful consideration. We recognise that there is a delicate balance to be struck between ensuring that family proceedings are open and transparent to ensure adequate public scrutiny and the principle of public justice, whilst also ensuring that the we protect the privacy of vulnerable children and families who are party to such proceedings.

This Government has taken several steps to increase transparency in family proceedings where appropriate. This has included continuing to support a pilot which allows accredited representatives of media outlets to have access to proceedings. The pilot allows legal bloggers access to proceedings with permission of the presiding judge. It also allows the blogger to write about their experiences at court but requires that names and personal information are kept anonymous.

We have also allowed the livestreaming of Court of Appeal family proceedings. This became a permanent arrangement in June 2020 through the Live Streaming Court of Appeal SI 2020 and allows anyone to view a Court of Appeal family case on the internet (again, whilst protecting the anonymity of the parties involved).

Further recommendations for increasing transparency will be carefully considered to ensure that the children and families who use the family courts continue to be protected, whilst also ensuring adequate scrutiny is given to the family courts.

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