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Family Courts

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions he has had with the President of the Family Division in relation to transparency in the family courts.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Ministers at the Ministry of Justice hold regular discussions with the President of the Family Division on a range of issues. The Government fully recognises that family proceedings should be as transparent as possible, and welcomes the progress that has been made towards greater openness together with the review on transparency that the President of the Family Division is currently undertaking. Accredited media have been allowed access to certain hearings in the family courts since 2009, and in 2014 the previous President of the Family Division issued guidance leading to the increased publication of judgments. A pilot allowing legal bloggers to report on family proceedings has been running since 2018, and the current President of the Family Division published new guidance on anonymising judgments for publication in 2018 and reporting in the family courts in 2019.

Greater transparency must be weighed against the need to safeguard children and their family’s privacy given the extremely sensitive information about them that the family courts often need to consider. The Government will continue to work with the senior judiciary to ensure that the right balance is struck between transparency and privacy.

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