Contempt of Court: Gender Recognition

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 29th June 2021.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference the advice of Chapter 12 of the Equal Treatment Bench Book, what assessment has been made of the potential effect of the advice that the court may consider making reporting restrictions under section 4 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to prevent disclosure of a transgender person’s previous name and transgender history or it may direct a private hearing on the freedom of the press.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

To preserve the independence of the judiciary, the Lord Chief Justice, the Senior President of the Tribunals, and the Chief Coroner have statutory responsibility for judicial training, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, and Coroners and Justice Act 2009 respectively. These responsibilities are exercised through the Judicial College and are outside the remit of the Ministry of Justice which means that no assessment is undertaken by the Ministry of Justice of its effect.

The Equal Treatment Bench Book (ETBB), reviewed by a judicial editorial panel, with content from judicial experts and other subject experts including academics and external bodies, is a general guidance document designed to encourage effective communication between all court users. It is not legally binding on judges or court users, who are free to decide what is appropriate in any given set of circumstances.

The content referred to in chapter 12 reflects the current law in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 regarding the revealing of transgender history of applicants for a Gender Recognition Certificate. It is for individual judges to balance reporting restrictions with the requirements of open justice in any particular case involving a transgender person where transgender history is not at all relevant to the subject of the proceedings.

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