Welcome to another week.

The debate over whether all family law judgments should be made publicly available has once again come under the spotlight after a report jointly written and published by the Association of Lawyers for Children and the National Youth Advocacy Service urges yet more caution in making these cases available to the public.

The report highlights concerns expressed by young people over the difficulty in hiding children’s identities in these cases, even with anonymised judgments and details the reaction of those children who took part in the initial investigation, researching the current ways in which cases could be accessed, and published. The report cites widespread shock and embarrassment by these children, who prior to taking part in the research, were not aware for example, that cases could be made readily available on public databases like BAILII.

However, the report also goes on to acknowledge the drive towards transparency inside the justice system, and as such, tries to offer suggestions as to how to best publish judgments without distressing any children involved.

Some of these ideas include:

  • Producing anonymised summaries of certain parts of judgments, rather than the judgment as a whole, on sites like BAILII
  • Reviewing anonymity rules and finding ways to improve them
  • Examining the resources available to improve these rules

Our question this week, is just this: do you think these suggestions are good, or can you think of better ones?

For anyone who is interested, the ALC have also written a response the government’s consultation on children and vulnerable witnesses in proceedings.

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