Practice Guidance: Family Court – Anonymisation guidance

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Guidance issued by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division

December 2018

1. In July 2016, Dr Julia Brophy published a report, jointly funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Association of Lawyers for Children, building on views expressed on transparency in the Family Court by a National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) panel of young people. The report set out draft guidance on the anonymisation of judgments. The draft guidance was designed to minimise the risk of identification of children and made recommendations on how descriptions of sexual abuse could be presented in judgments with a view to protecting children from the dissemination of distressing material on the internet or social media.

2. I am issuing this guidance to endorse, expressly the two checklists contained in the report which are annexed to this guidance. I wish to encourage all judges to refer to these checklists when publishing any judgment in a family case relating to children. I believe that judges will find the checklists to be of real help in writing anonymised judgments.

3. This guidance deals with two aspects of anonymisation and the avoidance of identification of children in judgments placed in the public arena: (a) personal and geographical indicators in judgments, and (b) the treatment of sexually explicit descriptions of the sexual abuse of children….