The final publication of the Family Division’s Transparency Review is now expected to be in Summer 2021.
In May 2019, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, announced he would undertake a review of the current arrangements for media/public access and reporting in the Family Courts (known as the Transparency Review).
Courts have continued to operate despite the challenges of the pandemic, but there have been unavoidable delays to the timetable Sir Andrew had envisaged when he launched the Review.
A panel helping the President has recently been extended to include a senior family division judge. The panel’s aim is to gather full and candid information for the Review.
The panel members are:
- Mrs Justice Nathalie Lieven (family division High Court judge)
- Dr Eia Asen (consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist)
- Anthony Douglas CBE (former chief executive of CAFCASS)
- Clare Dyer (former Legal Editor of The Guardian)
- Nicola Shaw CBE (Executive Director of National Grid)
The President is grateful to all those who contributed to the Transparency Review call for evidence. In all, more than 100 submissions were received from individuals and agencies drawn from across the world of family justice. The President and panel have now been able to meet remotely to review all submissions and consider who to hear oral evidence from.
Three oral evidence sessions are being held.
The first was held on Tuesday 2 February 2021. It included four participants, and was conducted remotely and according to witness preference (including reasonable adjustments).
The panel heard from:
- HH Clifford Bellamy – Retired Judge & author of “The “Secret” Family Court: Fact or Fiction?”
See the Transparency Review and Law Commission Proposal documents below.
- Dr Carol Coulter – Director of Child Care Law Reporting Project, Republic of Ireland. Please see the PDF below. More information is available on the Child Law Project website.
- Lisa Harker – Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.
- Professor Celia Kitzinger – Co-founder of the Open Justice Court of Protection Project.
She gave a slideshow presentation, which can be seen in full online.
The next oral sessions will take place on Monday 8 March and Monday 17 May. Invitations for them will be sent out shortly.
These sessions will involve a range of respondents, and the logistics including formal invitations and methodology for each participant group are being finalised. In each case, provisions will be made to make the content of the sessions available either at the time or later if there are sensitivities or preferences defined by the respondent.
Transparency Review - pdf (opens in a new window)
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Law Commission Proposal - pdf (opens in a new window)
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Lawyers for Children Paper - Carol Coulter - pdf (opens in a new window)
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