Correcting, clarifying or commenting on media reports of family court cases

Explaining or commenting on published judgments of family court cases

Highlighting other transparency news


The Times – Polly Morgan explained the facts behind the news that the government will legislate for ‘no fault’ divorce, and discussed the Times’ approach to reporting it. See No fault divorce and the media:

The Telegraph and the Mail – Several publications report that Sir Andrew McFarlane has suggested that the government should review the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority Act, in light of a man’s application to be registered as father on the birth certificate of a child he conceived through fertility treatment and gave birth to just after legally transitioning as a man. (See the Telegraph (pay-wall) and the Mail). Blog explainer to follow, once the President is able to publish his (reserved) judgment:

The Times – Among many reports last week on what would / should happen to Shamima Begum if she returned to the UK, the Times asked what would happen to (heavily pregnant) Shamima’s baby. See I want my baby with me in Britain, says Isis bride. See also background from the Guardian here. Blog to follow on the general safeguarding approach a council like Tower Hamlets would be required to take, to comply with the law:

Transparency Positive

The Express – Rather wonderfully got in touch on Valentine’s Day to say they had deleted their online article and spoken to the relevant journalist, in response to our complaint (to various publishers) about misleading, trivialising, reports of a judgment about findings of rape and serious domestic abuse. See An X worth waiting for:


The Independent – Reported the judgment from C (A child : care and a placement order) in the Croydon family court, without a link for online readers interested in reading all the information this judge elected to put in the public domain:


A Mother v Dorset County Council (Older children : Long-term fostering or Adoption): Lots of interest in this published judgment from HHJ Dancey’s decision against placement orders for 8 and 5 year olds who were settled in foster care and saying they wanted to stay put. Including tabular analysis of adoption v fostering, discussion of research (including disruption rates), comments on council biases towards adoption (including adoption targets & financial drivers), and his easily detachable summary of judgment for use by the family and (potentially) the children.

H (Care and Adoption: Assessment of wider family) – Suesspicious Minds explained Mr Justice Cobb’s judgment from a family court decision on care and placement orders, involving whether and when councils have positive obligations to assess family members, even when parents don’t put them forward or oppose them being told. (Also referencing FRG good practice guidance on such assessments.) See Assessing family members where parent doesn’t put them forward or objects:

R ( A Child : Appeal : Termination of Contact) – Mr Justice William’s comments on legal aid from a decision to allow a father’s appeal in part, attracted twitter attention. The father had appealed orders refusing contact and limiting it to indirect, alongside s.91(14) bars on future applications, despite findings the resident parent had significantly emotionally harmed the child by alienating him:

G (Children: Fair Hearing) –Suesspicious Minds analysed Peter Jackson J’s decision to allow a mother’s appeal from an interim care order she’d consented to, on the basis her consent arose from improper judicial pressure. See Bullish but not bullying: under pressure.

S (Care plans in discharge applications) – A legally ‘ordinary’ decision from the family court involving dramatic change by parents and children’s phased return home from care:


New Guidance for reporters (and others) applying to relax reporting restrictions – Louise Tickle (freelance journalist and Transparency Project member) successfully appealed a reporting restriction order that hadn’t followed required procedure, unduly limiting the mother’s ability to tell her care proceedings ‘story’ via the media. See Tickle’s Triumph – an independent journalist succeeds in her appeal to secure the right to report on a family case – and prompts new guidance. As a direct result of this appeal the President will issue practice guidance for consultation about journalists (or indeed legal bloggers) applying to relax reporting restrictions. (He also suggested he’d take the opportunity to consult on his December 2018 guidance on anonymising judgments). See also Sarah Phillimore (junior counsel in the appeal) at Child Protection Resource; live tweets by @GeorgeJulian; the Guardian Editorial on family law, Transparency is in the public interest; BBC Radio 4 PM (from 43.14-46.16); and BBC News here:

Legal Blogging Pilot – We wrote about the challenges of applying for permission to relax reporting restrictions, as legal bloggers, in the absence of procedure or guidance, based on our experience attending a hearing about Olly Sheridan. (Olly and his mother Ellie Yarrow have been missing for 7 months now despite an extensive publicity campaign with photographs and despite the recent joint appeal from Olly’s maternal relatives and father by joint press release and judicial tweet). See Olly Sheridan: A childhood on the run or a safe way back?: How we went about trying to report a recent hearing):

‘Common law marriage’ guidance note – To mark valentine’s day we launched a new guidance note on cohabitant’s rights (and lack of rights) behind the myth of common law marriage:

The Cairncross review – Dame Frances Cairncross published her review, on behalf of the government, of sustainable journalism. Judith Townend, lecturer in media law (and Transparency Project member) asked Could Cairncross help public interest law reporting? See also public funds should be used to rescue local journalism at the Guardian and The Cairncross Report: What it says and first impressions from Brian Cathcart at Inforrm:

Online court reform and the family courts – The judicial office published the consultation issued to the family court judiciary about digital reform, with a summary of responses/ action plan from the President. See ICLR notes from Paul Magrath (Transparency Project member) rounding up this and other recent (wider) legal developments:

Feature pic: Courtesy of Flickr Lauri Heikkinen via CreativeCommons licence – with thanks