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Family courts to be opened up to greater scrutiny, 16/12/08 [W/E]

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has announced that family court hearings are to be opened to accredited media.

The change is one part of a package of new measures intended to improve openness in the family court system set out in the paper Family Justice in View, which is based on a consultation that ran in 2007.

The court will be able to restrict attendance if the welfare of the child requires it, or for the safety and protection of parties or witnesses.

Additional proposals for increasing openness include:

  • allowing parties and their legal representatives to disclose information about their case to advisors (including MPs) while a case is ongoing, rather than at the end;
  • allowing more information to be made accessible to the public about the way the family courts work and how decisions are made.

Further information is available on the Ministry of Justice website.