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The Transparency Pilot Scheme commenced on 30 January 2023, since when accredited media representatives and legal bloggers have been able to attend hearings in the Family Court  ( initially starting with Public Law proceedings) to report on what they see and hear. The Reporting Pilot launched in Leeds, Cardiff and Carlisle. Judges within Court hearings have managed this by making  Transparency Orders which detail the rules of what can and cannot be reported on. Nearly a year has passed since the commencement and it is apparent that the pilot has had a variety of setbacks in reporting what goes on within the Family Court.

The scheme was first brought forward by the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane who said the aim was “to understand the impact of open reporting and to enhance public confidence, whilst at the same time firmly protecting continued confidentiality”. Mrs Justice Lieven stated in a briefing, prior to the launch of the pilot scheme, that having journalists not report on the cases within family court ‘has a major impact on the open justice principle’ and will hopefully provide a tool in re-educating the public. This change will lift the veil of secrecy and promote accountability within the family court. Ramsdens Solicitors were involved in a high profile case whereby the first Transparency Order was granted which covered an 11 week Finding of Fact Hearing in Leeds.

Throughout the pilot scheme, it has been apparent that some issues have arisen which require adjustments. Firstly one of the main issues that have arisen is the lack of information published within court listings to provide reporters with indicators of what is worthy of comment and interest to the public. Sir Andrew McFarlane has recognised without improvement, the pilot risks failure given that a reporter’s time is a precious resource for this scheme. Amendments were made to identify the Local Authority on the court listings which  allow reporters to  direct any enquiries accordingly. For example, Court listings will now appear as Leeds City Council v Re B Child.

There has also been a clear discrepancy between reporters and the Courts over the limitations of reporting. Initially, the Daily Mail criticised the Courts for blocking reporting on some ongoing proceedings which  potentially jeopardised thousands of ongoing cases from being scrutinised. The Courts and journalists have had to balance Article 10 ECHR  rights of the press, public and parties and Article 8 ECHR of the right to a private and family life.

However, one of the main aspirations of the transparency scheme was to lift the veil of secrecy behind proceedings. Judge Furness in Cardiff praised reporters being present at a hearing which enabled them to relay a summary of the evidence of vulnerable children being let down by a broken system.

What does it mean for parents

The changes will be very little but it is imperative that if a parent does not want their case being reported on, they need to inform their legal representative to tell the Court. Nevertheless, their legal representative will be able to explain what is to occur and in the cases that have been reported on, anonymity has been at the forefront to protect those involved.

For further information/advice or assistance with any child related matters, please contact our child law specialists on 01924 431 774, or send an email to us


The above article is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any part of the information given.