The President of the Family Division’s Transparency Review Panel put out a call for evidence in the early months of the year, before Covid-19 darkened our doors. Today the several-times-extended deadline for that call for evidence fell due.

The Transparency Project have prepared a detailed submission to assist the panel, and incorporated into it our response to the less well publicised consultation by the Family Procedure Rule Committee on the Legal Blogging Pilot (PD36J) which is running until the end of June (if not extended). We hope that our document is a useful contribution to debate and we hope that the Review Panel will be ready to grasp a few nettles. We think that action is desperately needed on a number of fronts.

Of course it goes without saying that we are publishing our consultation response so that others can read it. We think people should have an opportunity to see it, and we hope it will stimulate productive debate. We think that it’s really important that as many other submissions as possible are publicly available to feed into an open debate. Last time these matters were consulted on the responses were apparently polarised enough to stop reform in its tracks – but they were never published.

We are also pleased to publish the response of a group of excellent individuals that we have come to know as ‘The Workshop Group’. The Workshop Group are a bunch of people with experience of the family justice system (spanning family justice professionals, former subject children and those from the mainstream media) who gave up a day of their time on 29 February this year to take part in a facilitated workshop looking at transparency in the family court. The aim of the workshop was to try and find constructive ways forward on these tricky issues without discussion getting stuck or polarised. We found, that with a little planning and effort (and with the help of a skilled facilitator) this was possible. The group worked really hard, and although they did not agree about everything there was a surprising amount of harmony of approach – and they keen to make their own group submission to the President highlighting several issues that they thought were important. The dialogue that took place during that workshop has informed our views and fed into our own response.

We’d like to thank all those on the Transparency Project Team, the Workshop Group participants and others who have offered feedback for their direct and indirect input to our document.

In due course we plan to link to other consultation responses that we become aware of at the foot of this list in the hope that it may become something of a repository of the broad range of responses that we fully expect the President’s panel to have received. Please do send us any links that you spot, or email us a link to your own document if you’d like it added to our list.

Updated running list of other responses we are aware of :

  • Families Need Fathers : here
  • Family Law Bar Association : here (with permission)
  • Association of Lawyers for Children : here
  • David Burrows (solicitor) : here
  • Resolution : not up yet but should appear here in due course
  • Law Society : not up yet but should appear here in due course
  • The Presentation upon which Dr Carol Coulter’s oral evidence to the review panel was based :can be found here. Dr Coulter is the Director of Child Care Law Reporting Project, Republic of Ireland.

Needless to say, inclusion of a response in this list doesn’t necessarily mean we endorse it, and we have been sent some individual responses that we can’t publish / link to for legal reasons.

We have a small favour to ask! 

The Transparency Project is a registered charity in England & Wales run largely by volunteers who also have full-time jobs. We’re working hard to secure extra funding so that we can keep making family justice clearer for all who use the court and work within it.

Our legal bloggers take time out at their own expense to attend courts and to write up hearings.

We’d be really grateful if you were able to help us by making a small one-off (or regular!) donation through our Just Giving page.

Thanks for reading!

Feature pic : listen by Randy Adams on Flickr – creative commons – thanks!