Family proceedings have historically remained veiled from public scrutiny, with the media not being allowed to report on the decisions being made. In this article, B P Collins’ family team explores the evolving role of court reporting and its impact on promoting accountability and fairness in family law.

In 2019, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, acknowledged the issues surrounding the lack of reporting and appointed a review panel to investigate transparency in the Family Courts. He said: “Openness and confidentiality are not irreconcilable, and each is achievable. The aim is to enhance public confidence significantly, whilst at the same time firmly protecting continued confidentiality.”

Recent developments, such as the expansion of the pilot scheme initially launched in January 2023, spanning Cardiff, Leeds and Carlisle have marked a significant step towards increased transparency in family court proceedings.

During the pilot scheme, media representatives were granted access to report on proceedings, shedding light on previously inaccessible legal processes. A year later, the decision has been taken to extend the pilot scheme to 16 additional family court centres, including all London Family Courts. This expansion means that almost half of all family courts will now be included, representing a substantial transition towards transparency in the family law system. This initiative provides an opportunity for the general public to gain insights into the workings of family courts and understand the complexities of legal decision-making. Its aim is to not only assist in keeping the courts accountable but also prevent any bias that people may hold towards the Family Courts.

As part of the increased transparency, the Family Courts will allow the media to interview family members and report on what was said provided that their identity is kept strictly anonymous. Measures are already in place to ensure anonymity, with strict guidelines prohibiting the publication of identifying information under penalty of contempt of court. However, challenges remain, particularly regarding the protection of children’s identities as the increased presence of reporters in the courtroom heightens the risk of inadvertent disclosure.

The pilot’s focus on public law cases is a promising start, with plans to expand to private law cases and eventually include financial remedy cases. This phased approach demonstrates a commitment to gradual but comprehensive reform.

If you are looking to initiate court proceedings or if you would would like to speak in confidence to the family team at B P Collins, you can email or call 01753 889995.

Related Services

Related Team Specialists

Laura Thumb
Laura Mortimer
Practice Group Leader

Speak to an expert

Or send us an email