As anticipated, the Reporting Pilot is now being extended to more courts – another 16, as well as the existing pilot in Cardiff, Carlisle and Leeds. We have copied the Judiciary press release below. As more metropolitan courts are now included, we may well see a lot more reporting. At first, only public law proceedings will be included for the new pilot courts. Eventually privste law will be, as in the three current pilot courts.
In a Reporting Pilot court, journalists and legal bloggers who can attend family court hearings held in private are allowed to write about them, subject to a Transparency Order that protects children from being identifiable.
We’re taking this expansion as a sign of judicial confidence in the idea of transparency, despite some initial anxiety from some judges, and confidence in the responsibility of the media and legal bloggers who are being given much wider opportunities to attend and report on cases. We assume that the evaluation of the first year has been positive, alhtough that is yet to be published.
There’s a good summary of what all this means in the Press Gazette today.
You can hear our Chair, Lucy Reed KC, being interviewed on the Today programme (at 2.40 in)
If you want to know more about what to do if the media/legal bloggers want to report on your case: our guidance note
If you want to know more about becoming a legal blogger: find out here
PRESS RELEASE – Judiciary
Groundbreaking Family Court reporting pilot rolled out to sixteen more courts across England
On Monday 29 January 2024 the Transparency Implementation Group Reporting Pilot (TIG), which for the first time made it the default position that the media could report on family cases, will be extended to 16 courts across the country.
The pilot introduces a presumption that accredited media and legal bloggers may report on what they see and hear during family court cases, subject to strict rules of anonymity. The ability to report is being piloted to make sure it can be done safely and with minimum disruption to those involved in the cases, and the courts. This will be done through judges in these courts making a ‘Transparency Order’, which sets out the rules of what can and cannot be reported.
The pilot started at the family courts in Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle at the end of January 2023. Since then there has been groundbreaking coverage of both public and private law cases including a mini-series on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the BBC News website, the Sunday Times, the Economist, the Guardian and the Observer, the Daily Mail, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and others. The aim of rolling the pilot out to more courts is to further explore the impact of reporting on the courts system and judges themselves, on those involved in family proceedings, and on the media.
The courts that will be taking part in the pilot from Monday 29 January are:
North West: Liverpool, Manchester
North East: West Yorkshire, Kingston-upon-Hull
Midlands: Nottingham, Stoke, Derby, Birmingham
London: Central Family Court, East London, West London
South West: Dorset, Truro
South East: Luton, Guildford, Milton Keynes
President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane said:
“Extending the reporting pilot to family courts across the country is a huge step in the judiciary’s ongoing work to increase transparency and improve public confidence and understanding of the family justice system. After a pioneering year of reporting from Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle journalists and legal bloggers will be allowed to report from a further sixteen courts.
“We hope than in extending the pilot further we can continue to understand the impact that family court reporting has. I would like to urge the media to read the guidance and come to the family courts to see the vital and challenging work that is done there, and to report on the cases and issues that are so important.”
An online training session will be held for media on Tuesday 23 January at 5pm. If you would like to attend please email email@example.com for details.
Notes to editors:
- The Reporting Pilot is the pilot scheme for one of the main recommendations from the President of the Family Division’s Transparency Review, which was published in October 2021.
- To ensure that the recommendations of the review were implemented, the President set up the Transparency Implementation Group in December 2021.
- Since then, a sub-group of the TIG, led by Mrs Justice Lieven, supported by TIG secretary Jack Harrison, and composed of stakeholders from across family justice and beyond, have designed and set up the reporting pilot.
- The media can already report on family cases if an application is made and a Transparency Order is granted. The pilot creates the presumption that a Transparency Order will be made.
- Full details of the pilot including detailed guidance for reporters can be found here.
Image: Statue of Themis. Thanks Rae Allen at flickr