Welcome to another week.
Andrew McFarlane – the judge in charge of the family court in England and Wales – published a report announcing that the courts should be more open and transparent in how they work.
The report makes several suggestions including that journalists should have greater access to the family courts; the presumption that people cannot automatically report on family court cases to be replaced with a presumption that they can unless there are good reasons not to allow it, and the compulsory collection of “data” at the end of each case.
However, the current recommendations made by McFarlane – which he says can be challenged in an upcoming consultation — propose a much watered down version of transparency, which include: restricted access to court documents; a tightly controlled reporting regime which involves the judiciary monitoring the media as stories are prepared and published; and only allowing those journalists accredited by the family courts to report on such cases.
The individuals and organisations currently involved in and advising on this initiative include: Anthony Douglas CBE, former chief executive of CAFCASS; Dr Eia Asen, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist; The Transparency Project; Isabelle Trowler, chief social worker; Jacky Tiotto, CEO Cafcass; and James Munby, the former president of the family courts.
Our question to you this week, is just this: do you think this initiative is going to make a positive difference to families and children going through the family courts?