The short answer is ‘No’.

Some years ago, I noticed that the consultation documents on access to family courts tended to use these two terms interchangeably and I wondered if transparency was just a fashionable word for openness. I looked into it and discovered that transparency was originally about attempts to make EU decision making more accountable. Basically, there were concerns that processes were so multi-layered and obscure that it was virtually impossible for anyone to understand how things were being done.  Hence the idea of transparency of process – that we can understand how decisions are made even though we are not present at every single one. It’s about public confidence. The idea caught on here, with the FoI Act etc. So my conclusion was that this can be sought in the family courts without them being completely ‘opened up’ as some politicians and journalists were keen on calling for.

However the other day, I came across a different distinction – that openness is actually less useful to the public than transparency, because judicial decision making is almost a code, and so just being able to access everything directly is not going to tell people outside the case very much at all.

This is why I support the idea of finding alternatives to what seems to be on offer, making court processes easier for the general public (as well as litigants) to understand.