Some news.

  • The Reporting Pilot now running in 3 courts will shortly be extended to Magistrates in those courts.
  • The Reporting Pilot will be rolled out in a number of other courts from January 2024. As with the first 3 pilot courts the new courts will first bring public law cases into the pilot and subsequently private law and then magistrates level work. We don’t yet know exactly how many courts or where they will be, but we are really hoping at least one of the courts will be London based, and it sounds as if the number of new courts could well be into double digits. That would make a substantial difference to the volume of hearings accessible to the pilot and to their accessibility. It will also contribute to the normalisation of the ways of working which the pilot brings with it.
  • January will also see a financial remedy Pilot, though details of how that will work are thin on the ground.

This information was shared at a meeting of the President’s Media Engagement Group held on 1 November where, notwithstanding the old and continuing niggles about court lists being a real barrier to reporting, the mood was relatively upbeat from both journalists and judges.

Whilst progress is slow and halting, and culture change is still very much in need of further work, it is happening.

And almost a year into the pilot it is clear that there has been some really good reporting, some real investment from the media and individual journalists to making use of the pilot – and the sky has not fallen in. Mrs Justice Lieven, lead judge for the pilot, confirmed that there had been no complaints about potential identification of families. This matters, because concerns about breach of anonymity have always been the main response both to individual applications for permission to report and to suggestions of a shift in practice more generally. Whilst more testing out is necessary, particularly around rural areas, this is all very positive. Transparency can be done safely and responsibly. And if it can be done safely and responsibly it is hard not to justify doing more of it.

We hope too that the expansion of the pilot will make it easier for us to encourage more lawyers to observe and write about hearings as legal bloggers (both in pilot and non pilot courts). If you are interested in legal blogging please get in touch.