Yesterday, the President of the Family Division published his anticipated guidance and consultation on transparency issues. The guidance had been promised by the President in the course of Transparency Project member Louise Tickle’s successful appeal against a reporting restriction order which we wrote about at the time (see the judgment in Re R here).

The guidance is in draft form and open for consultation until 30 June – it deals with practical procedural issues around the attendance of both journalists and legal bloggers at private family hearings, to make things run more smoothly and effectively – in particular how to deal with requests to publish information that would otherwise be restricted.

Also, in his ‘View 2’ the President also announces a wider Transparency Review which will run for a period of 9 months and report next year. That is interesting and exciting news.

It seems implicit from these documents that at least pending evaluation and receipt and consideration of consultation responses the plug is not about to be pulled on the legal blogging pilot. It is currently scheduled to end on 30 June but we anticipate that it will probably be extended in due course for a further period, as other pilots often are (barring catastrophic problems).

It’s really encouraging to see that the new President is grasping the very tricky nettle of transparency and that these issues are going to be given a thorough look over. There aren’t any simple solutions and it is right that the President takes time to think about all options before deciding how best to balance the competing needs and rights involved.

The TP will (obviously) be responding to the consultation once we’ve had time to digest the draft guidance. We will publish our response (and link to any others we see published) on this site in due course.

We will write more in due course, but in the meantime the documents can all be found here.


Next Wednesday our chair Lucy Reed will be running a workshop for lawyers on the issues around journalists and legal bloggers attending family court hearings – the workshop will incorporate consideration of these new developments but bookings must close on Friday. For further information or to book please see our eventbrite page here.

Feature pic : Thomas Hawk on Flickr (Creative Commons) – thanks!