“The publication of this excellent book is extremely welcome,” said Sir Andrew McFarlane when Transparency in the Family Courts: Publicity and Privacy in Practice, written by three of our trustees, Julie Doughty, Lucy Reed KC and Paul Magrath, was first published, in 2018.

At the time Sir Andrew was just taking over from Sir James Munby as President of the Family Division, since when he has also taken over and driven forward the transparency agenda which Sir James had done so much to promote. The book was the first textbook to address the law and practice in this area, and was intended to support and extend the work of the Transparency Project.

Written in the context of Sir Andrew’s Transparency Review (2021) and the work of the Transparency Implementation Group (TIG), this second edition of the book also covers key recent case law and procedural changes, including:

  • Press attendance and reporting from pilot courts
  • Legal blogging developments
  • Privacy of financial applications
  • Updated judicial guidance on anonymisation and publication, including the transfer of primary publication from BAILII to The National Archives.
  • Updated selection of case studies

The book provides a detailed practical guide to the relevant legislation, case law, policy and procedure, and how the balance between privacy and publicity has changed over time. In his foreword to the new edition, Sir Andrew says of the drive towards greater transparency:

“Events have moved swiftly and there can now be no family lawyer or judge who is unaware of the justified impetus towards greater transparency in family cases or of the importance of the need for a clear understanding of just where the line is drawn between what can or cannot be disclosed to those outside the court about what has gone on within it. … Thanks to the ground-breaking and inspired work of the Transparency Project, and the first edition of this book, transparency came to be seen as a much more subtle, sophisticated and flexible concept. There is much that can be achieved to ‘open up’ the Family Court in terms of describing and explaining its workings and decisions which falls short of allowing unrestricted access to all and sundry. … Above all, this is a practically-based text written by practitioners for practitioners, giving a thorough account of the relevant statutory law, case law and procedure.”

The book is published by Bloomsbury Professional and can be ordered here.

Bloomsbury have published an Author Q&A here.

Author Lucy Reed KC was interviewed recently on the podcast Double Jeopardy, Ep 49: Secrecy in the Family Courts, discussing the work of the Transparency Project and the writing of this book.

See also her recent article in Counsel magazine, Public debate about private matters.