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Opening up the family courts: An open or closed case

Speech by Lord Justice Wall



Lord Justice Wall looked at the proposals to open up the family courts to the public, and gave his own opinion: “My position is that I am in favour of giving the media - and in practice this means the press - access to family proceedings, provided that there are clear ground rules about what they can and cannot report. In practice this is mostly going to mean the extent to which, if at all, they are to be at liberty when reporting the proceedings, to identify the parties, and, in particular, the children concerned.

“In addition to giving the press the right of admission to our first instance courts, judgments and reasons in family cases should, in my view, be routinely given in open court in anonymised form…

“In my view, there needs to be an ongoing dialogue between the higher judiciary, the press and the media generally about family justice and how it is administered. We - that is the specialist judiciary and practitioners - have nothing to fear from public scrutiny: indeed, we should welcome it.”


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