The Ministry of Justice carried out what they have called an ‘Information Pilot’ which ran from November 2009 to December 2010, and which was designed to examine whether or not there was any merit in giving certain parties written judgments and making a selection of family law cases available to the public through the free resource, BAILII.
The findings themselves are not surprising, with most people who took part in the pilot supporting the view that greater transparency was essential and that there was a real need to demystify the process so that it could be better understood.
The MOJ’s report has some of the usual nuances to it (lawyers and court staff welcomed the pilot and embraced greater transparency but expressed concern in relation to family privacy; findings show that there was no negative impact on families; cost and logistics concerns over possible volume of future cases published; press showed little to no interest in the cases, yada, yada, yada) but it’s a very important read, for it marks the continued momentum towards change.
The Family Courts Information Pilot is around 50 pages from start to finish, but it you don’t have enough digestive biscuits, the Executive Summary is a good place to start and finish, at only five pages. There is also this excellent summary from Family Law Week.