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Family Court reporting pilot rolled out to sixteen more courts across England

After a successful pilot, journalists will now have wider discretion to report what they witness at family courts.

15/01/24

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, and the Daily Mail.

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.”

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