Categories:Private Client

By Jack Straw MP

Family court transparency - how it will be achieved

  • Print
  • Comments (10)

Readers' comments (10)

  • There is a real tension between increasing public confidence in the family law system and respecting the privacy of those who find themselves, often though no fault of their own, caught up within it. Whilst the new rules are a step in the right direction, I am not at all convinced that they will achieve their aim since the tight restrictions on reporting the specifics of a case, requirement for anonymisation and permission to report proceedings, place a strait jacket on the press from the outset.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There is a real tension between, on the one hand, understanding the judicial decision making process in proceedings affecting families and, on the other, picking over the detail of individuals' private affairs. Whilst the first is in the public interest, the second is just of interest to the public.

    Disclosure of a large number of our clients' affairs certainly isn't in the public interest and I foresee a significant amount of judicial time being spent over the coming weeks adjudicating on the right of access of the press rather than the real issues in dispute

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Transparency is a laudable aim but at a time when the family Courts, with their ever-diminishing budgets, are already struggling to function effectively one wonders how damaging more bureaucracy will be.
    The wider public may, if cases are accurately reported, have more confidence in the family justice system. But for those actually embroiled in it, how much confidence will they get from experiencing delays, poor facilities, lost Court papers, wrongly timetabled hearings and the like? In our view this is what the Government needs to address.
    For all of these reasons, avoiding Court will become a much more attractive option. This latest change to the way Family Courts function is likely to give Mediation and collaborative law, both tried and tested ways of resolving disputes outside of the Court process, a further boost. Alternative Dispute Resolution could therefore become the norm rather than the exception.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • If the rules on what the journalists can report requires primarily legislation whic h in not yet in place what the journalists sitting in court from Monday suppose to do? How will they know what they can report and what they can ? It does sound like the usual shambles we are only too familar with from this government whic h is strong on promises feeble on delivery!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is just another "initiative" which looks all glossy on the cover but in reality is a little naff. It doesn't matter how you spin it Mr Straw, this does very little to change things.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Despite Jack Straw has announcing that family court hearings in county courts and the High Court are to be opened to the media from 27 April it appears that top Judges and solicitors are reluctant to a change the Family law ‘gravy train’ and family law practitioners and Government are try to sell families down the river

    The secrecy surrounding the family court systems encourages bad practice'

    New Fathers 4 Justice demand a completely open Family court system and if that means storming family court hearings like in Bristol last June then we WILL!!!



    www.newfathers4justice.com

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have been involved in ongoing proceedings for many years. I do not agree that being unable to report details of a case will prevent the public gaining a true picture of how family proceedings are conducted. My experience has been that the main failings in family courts have been:
    1. Lack of judicial continuity.
    2. Failure to enforce the orders of the court.
    3. Delay in resolving contested issues.
    4. Over-reliance on opinions of CAFCASS.
    5. Failure to distinguish between opinion and fact.
    6. Failure to timetable a case and ensure speedy resolution.

    None of the above are reliant upon the details of a case and could easily be observed and reported upon without the risk of disclosing personal details. The failings of the family courts are very broad and the way a case is conducted in court will be very quickly picked up by an able reporter.

    I therefore have every confidence that the very presence of a court reporter will be sufficient to expose these faults and maybe even sufficient to prevent miscarriages of justices in the first place.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I dont think anyone was suggesting media exposure on family skeletons...but surely in the name of justice and fairness the media could publicise the main bones of contention between
    parties. As it is these disputes on many occasions that are ignored, suppressed or simply dismissed as time of course seems always to be a factor.
    Moving on I believe it to be vital that professionals that commit perjury, whether it be a social worker, expert witness, cafcass etc should be named publicly.
    There should also be allowances for the media to report miscarriages of justice if parents feel this is the case, especially when their child has been removed. Let us not neglect the fact that a large portion of parents have their children removed based upon the probability that abuse may occur in the future.
    The parents, of which there are thousands, that have already lost their children through the courts, should not be forgotten either Mr Straw as they are the ones that are silenced by the state but need to speak out about the horrendous treatment their families have suffered....
    The family courts, if I may be so bold generates such an extortionate amount of money with every case. Indeed for the whole internal mechanism to work effectively there are an enormous amount of professionals in social care,health,legal,educational,secretarial,not to mention fostercarers and outside sectors.
    Just strikes me, the vast number of people who would lose their jobs and livelihoods they are accustomed to, if less children were taken into care......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Right, that opens the door for psychologists and family education to study and analyze the patterns of imbalance, which affects the family and the impact on children, especially from the open discussion and media

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Having been through family proceedings as a child, I can honestly say that lifting the veil on the family court to an extent that parties to the case are identified could only be detrimental to the welfare of a child. The problem is and always has been a lack of resources, for example the significant lack of social workers, the lack of funding to promote family relations and the lack of support for families whe are experiencing problems. Everything has an impact on family life and in these times when many are facing unemployment etc the issues can only get worse. It is essential that the government focus on the root of the problem and provide assistance before the matter ever needs to be addressed by the courts.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (10)